Captain Solok and his away team of three others had beamed down to the small cabin in the remote village somewhere in the Swiss alps. It was Admiral Burnley who had insisted Solok join him for dinner with his family and encouraged him to bring a few 'friends'.
It was nearing the Christmas holiday, and the Admiral always seemed to enjoy coaxing Solok into participating in them in some way or another. This visit to Earth would likely not be any different. However, he owed Max and indulged him.
"Solok! Good to see you my friend. I hope the journey to Earth went well." Max exclaimed joyfully, welcoming Solok with out stretched arms as he placed his hands on his shoulders. They had beamed directly into the Admirals house.
"It was uneventful." Solok responded in his normal placid manner.
"Who else do we have here?" Max asked as he looked to the three others with the captain.
"I believe you have met T'Lara, my chief science officer. The others are Larkin, our Chief medical officer, and Lieutenant T'Pel Kestra." Answered Solok, standing to the side.
"Good to meet you. Mary! We have company!" Max yelled as he toddled off toward the kitchen, "Go ahead and make yourselves at home. I will grab some refreshments."
Solok, Larkin, and T'Lara took it upon themselves to take seats in the living room, and as T'Pel was about to join them, she decided to walk over to the window, her hands clasped behind her back. It was mid day and there was low light due to cloud cover as it was snowing lightly and the sight fascinated her.
A moment later the Admiral and his wife entered, carrying a tray of hot orange liquid, "I hope Vulcan's don't have an aversion to pumpkin." Max grinned setting the tray on the coffee table.
"It's pumpkin spice." His wife smiled.
Solok gave a nod and looked to Larkin and T'Lara as all had grabbed a cup. Max seemed to beam heavily as he watched them, "I love Vulcan's. No matter what they do, when it is new to them they can not help but look awkward." He laughed.
His wife smiled, looking over to T'Pel who seemed to have not heard a word that was spoken. Solok gave a polite nod, "Thank you, Mrs. Burnley. As I am sure this is your creation seeing as how I know the Admiral is incapable of cooking."
Max gave a laugh and wrapped a loving arm around his wife, "I told you he was funny." His eyes moving to see what she was looking at, "Ah...almost like a cat who has been mesmerized by a new toy. Have you never seen snow before this, Lieutenant?"
Hearing her title she turned, a little wide eyed as she had just realized there had been conversation going on behind her, "Only in images. During my time at the academy, I never left San Francisco." She replied, turning away from the window.
"Well, should you like after dinner, we have snow suits available. You can go out and play in it." Max smiled.
T'Pel simply tilted her head, "Play?"
"Vulcan's don't play dear, stop teasing them." His wife laughed and slapped his arm before heading into the kitchen to finish dinner.
T'Pel joined the others and sat, looking curiously at the pumpkin beverage T'Lara handed her. It smelled well enough and she took a sip, her brows raised as did the rest of her crews. T'Lara seemed to like it well enough as she had leaned back and took another sip. Larkin kept taking sniffs of it before sips and Solok held his firmly as he eyed the falling snow out the window, sipping every once in a while.
After dinner, the Admirals grandchildren were rushed off to adorn their snow suits followed by Larkin. T'Pel raised a brow and looked at him, "You are going to go 'play' in the snow with the children?" she asked.
"Actually, I am going to go and examine the frozen water particles. I have heard that humans believe that no two are the same. I wish to see if this is true." He said as he slipped on the heavy jacket.
Her brow raised further and she tilted her head as she looked out the window at the great expanse of snow covering the land scape, "I do not believe we will have the time required for such an experiment, Larkin."
He looked to the window and gave a nod, "I will be able to get an idea. If anything, it will allow for me to gain more samples of fractal patterns." He responded nonchalantly as he pulled up his hood, "I would suggest you take this time to try something new and if anything, take a walk in it. It is quite calming." And with that he headed out the door.
The urge to explore was present, and so she decided to adorn her own snow suit and walked out, followed by the rest of the Admirals family and guests.
As she stood on the steps of the front porch, she eyed the white substance as Larkin calibrated his tricorder to take proper readings.
"The only biting the snow will do is at your ears and nose. Don't be shy." Max said as he walked up behind her.
Her dark eyes moved to his, "Humans have an interesting way of describing reactions caused by the low temperature." She stated then looked back to the whiteness, "It is so...pure. I almost do not desire to alter it."
Then at that moment, the three children went bounding off the porch and dived right in. Wide eyed she gave a sigh, "However I suppose that would be pointless now." And she took a slow and careful step off into the yard.
Max stood there smiling as Solok and T'Lara walked up, followed by Mrs. Burnley, "I think it is fascinating to watch people experience something new, wouldn't you agree Solok?" Max asked.
Solok looked to T'Pel, who seemed to be carefully watching where she was going and looking back to where she had been and tilted his head, "Snow is not a common thing for Vulcans. We do not much care for the cold."
Max chuckled, "Neither a yes or a no. Come...tell me all that is new with you since last we communicated." He said and ushered him off to the side.
T'Lara had taken up a seat on one of the patio chairs with Mrs. Burnley as they watched the kids play, "Do you often visit here, Mrs. Burnley?" she asked.
"My husband loves the snow. Usually I am content to sit in next to the fire with a book and some hot chocolate, so it works. And please, call me Mary." The woman smiled.
T'Lara gave a nod and held her cup of pumpkin spice to her lips as she lightly blew on it, "Mary it is then. Your Grandchildren seem to have quite a bit of energy."
Mary gave a nod, "Most children do. Do you have any children?" She asked, holding her own cup tightly.
"I do not. I will when I am ready to take extended leave from Starfleet." T'Lara responded.
Mary took a sip, "I see. When do you think that will be?"
T'Lara glanced over to Solok then back to the kids before answering, "I hope soon. I believe I am ready to have children of my own."
Mary, having seen T'Laras glance, leaned in a little closer, "Are you and Captain Solok married?"
T'Lara nearly spit her drink back into the cup, but swallowed and looked at Mary, "No. My husband is on Vulcan."
Mary gave a little blush, "Oh. I'm sorry to have assumed."
T'Lara seemed to have understood the assumption and tilted her head, "We are old friends. I am a little...hesitant to leave him. It is foolish, though he is picky when it comes to who he grows close to. I do not want to leave unless I know he is..." She lowered her voice considerably, "...well looked after."
Mary gave a nod, "I assume his mate is on Vulcan then?"
T'Lara seemed to think about it, then simply nodded, as Solok's gaze had moved over to the two women. "You will have to forgive me, but it is really his business. I should not discuss it."
Mary took a sip of her drink again and nodded, "Oh no, of course. I shouldn't have asked. I guess I forget myself now that my children have all been married off and have families of their own. I tend to get a little nosy."
"I like to think it is part of your charm, dear." Max chimed in with a warm smile.
T'Pel had made a full circle around the Burnleys yard before coming to a stop as she looked off into the tree's when she was pelted in the back of the head by something soft. Snow flew past her and she turned to face three children who's eyes had grown the size of melons as they started pointing to each other and yammering, "It was him. No, she did it!"
It hadn't hurt, only startled her and she lowered her hood. T'Pel had let her hair down to better insulate her neck and ears, even though the tips of her Vulcan-hood still poked out slightly, "I am not concerned with who is guilty. I would simply advise you to be more cautious."
They all nodded, then promptly went back to throwing more snow. The two boys seemed to gang up on their younger sister, "Stop it!" the girl cried.
T'Pel walked over and tilted her head as she eyed the two boys, "I think it is rather unfair for you two to team up against your sister. Perhaps this game should end."
The girl began to pull on T'Pels arm, "I don't want to stop playing. Maybe you can be on my team and we can beat them then. I know we can!" She smiled hopefully.
T'Pel cocked a brow and thought a moment, "I do not believe that is such a good idea. My strength and speed is greater then theirs. I would not wish to harm them."
"Well...you could go easy on them. It'll be fun. Come on, pleeeeeease?" The girl begged.
"Go on, T'Pel. Show the boys how it is done!" Max urged laughing.
After a moment, she finally bent over and took a bit of snow in her gloved hands and formed it into a ball, trying to make it hold shape but loosely enough that it would disperse easily upon contact, then turned her eyes to the two boys who turned and ran for some tree's.
T'Pel had thrown it, catching one of them in the back and he squealed and slid behind a tree as he laughed. She had been a little worried that it may hurt him, however it seemed not to. The girl to her side pulled her over to the tree's on the other side of the yard, "I have a Vulcan on my team now! You guys are done for!" she giggled.
Picking up more snow as before, T'Pel formed a ball just as she ran over to seek cover behind another tree as she threw the snowball and caught one of the boys trying to sneak over to their sister. He gave a squeal and ran back to his former hiding spot.
Solok cocked a brow, "I was unaware that human children played games that challenged them to use field tactics. Interesting."
Max laughed, "It is also fun, but what would you know? T'Pel seems to get the hang of it, though." He said as he watched as the boys sat whispering, plotting their next move. T'Pel was showing the young girl how to better pack a snow ball as hers normally fell apart before making contact.
"I never thought of it like that before, Captain. You are perceptive." Mary smiled as she and T'Lara watched. The boys had gone around and attacked their sister and her pointy eared compatriot from behind causing them to run forward and back out into the open.
However what the boys had not realized was that they had stocked up on ammo, and in turn got pelted by quite a few snow balls from the girls, the smallest of which was laughing so hard she could barely stand as she watched her brothers run screaming back to the trees.
Max gave a smile, "I think I can die happy now. I've seen a Vulcan have a snow ball fight." He smiled at Solok.
The captain was clinging to his recently refilled cup of pumpkin juice and blinked, "I do not understand what fascination you have with witnessing Vulcans participate in odd human rituals."
"Well, when you compare our two races, we are very different. Very different. When we think of Vulcans, we think cold stoic beings with no personality. Granted, as I have come to know more about your people, I can see your depth. Humans...we make no effort to hide ours. Seeing a blur in the contrast of our peoples is...a lot of the time, heart warming. I know that deep deep deeeep down, you aren't all that cold."
Solok eyed Max a moment, a little unsure of how to respond to such a statement, and just as he was about to speak there was a splash of cold powder that hit the right side of his face. His grip tightened on his cup as he made an effort to suppress a few choice words from the shock of the cold. He turned his head to see the kids all pointing to a very wide eyed T'Pel, who from the look of it also had gotten snow to the face.
"The snow hit me just as I threw my snow ball. It stunned me and I must have aimed too high. My apologies, Captain." She almost stammered.
He said nothing, but simply turned and walked back inside. The kids all looked at her and laughed, "Ooooo...you're gonna get iiiiiit."
She looked up to T'Lara, who for the first time T'Pel had ever seen, had an amused smirk on her face. Moments later, Solok came back out the door wearing a snow suit, his hood down as he pulled on his gloves, "I find your tactical abilities lacking. Prepare yourself. I will teach you how to maneuver properly." He cocked a brow and with a very matter-of-fact expression walked down the stairs.
They boys eyed him a moment before he knelt down to whisper something to them, leaving their two female rivals to stare in confusion. The young boys eyes adopted a mischievous look as they nodded and ran off toward the tree's again. Solok stood, and with one last look before following them, he had challenged his lieutenant.
T'Pel cocked a brow and looked over to T'Lara, "Would you care to join in this battle?"
The chief shook her head, "I will not. This is your battle, T'Pel." There was the slightest hint of a smirk on her lips as she sipped her pumpkin spice.
T'Pel looked down to her young partner who asked innocently, "We are in trouble, aren't we?" In turn she looked over to where the three 'boys' were and cocked a brow, "We will see. We must now double our efforts if we are to obtain victory." They walked over to take up position on their side of the yard.
"Now we have a Vulcan on our team, Sara! Prepare to lose!?" One of the girls brothers called.
Sara gave an angry little pout, "T'Pel can out smart Captain Solok any day!" She yelled and began to furiously make snow balls.
T'Pel raised her brows and looked at the girl, "As I appreciate your faith in my abilities, let us not get a head of ourselves. Now, what I want you to to do is move back into the tree's in that direction." She pointed over toward the house, "Be as silent as you can and hide yourself around the bushes. I will be over here at the farthest point. I believe they will try to flank our current position. Do you understand?" She asked.
Sara gave a nod and slowly started for where she had been directed and T'Pel headed over to her spot. There was movement off in the distance and she quietly formed another ball of snow as she moved farther and past where she was sure the boy was headed.
She took in a breath and aimed, then released the snow and watched as it struck the boy in the leg. He gave a yelp and ran behind a tree and attempted to keep his laughter quiet. There was more movement as she could hear another yelp from across the yard, "Sara you sneak!" He laughed.
That only left one. Her eyes scanned the tree's after she saw the kids rush out into the middle of the yard by the porch, "Two Vulcans, both trained in the art of snow ball fighting, battling for logical supremacy..." The eldest boy began in a big booming voice. Max doubled over with laughter, though T'Pel simply raised a brow, picking up more snow and getting low to the ground.
Solok hadn't moved from his current position, and he stood listening for her footsteps but heard nothing. He had a snow ball in hand as he pulled back his arm to throw as soon as he caught sight of T'Pel and leaned out just a little from behind the tree, slowly inching forward. No sight of her, until snow hit him in the head and he was able to barely catch a glimps of her roll from behind one tree to another.
He followed suit and moved his location further into the tree's, following her. Grabbing more snow he prepared another ball. He could feel his heart picking up speed, and it seemed to warm his prickling ears. Finally he understood what Max had meant by the snow biting.
T'Pel came to a stop and stood behind a large tree. Her hands clasping another ball of snow as she tried to feel Solok out. The effort ultimately proved fruitless so she began to move slowly around the tree in an attempt to get past him and behind him.
There came the faintest sound of snow shuffling from directly behind him, and it was almost as if he could feel her. She was very close. He turned quickly, giving her a start as both had snow balled one another in the face. T'Pel gave a slight jump but it was just enough to send her sliding down the hill neither had seemed to notice they were inching toward.
In an attempt to keep her from falling Solok grabbed her arms but slipped and they both went tumbling down the hill.
"They fell!" Max yelled, causing T'Lara and Mary to jump from their seats. Larkin had come running out from the trees and they all ran over to assist.
Everything was a white blur for a moment as they tumbled until finally coming to a stop. The cold and the dizziness was a little disorienting, and Solok had his face buried against her neck. It was warm and the scent of her hair seemed familiar to him, he did not wish to move for his nose was freezing by this point. Surely a moment would not be too long to remain.
Her eyes opened and she could see up into the trees and realized she was pinned under her captain. She could feel his breath on her neck, and felt his cold nose brush lightly against her ear sending a chill down her spine. He had her pinned underneath him completely, but the snow offered some resistance and cushioning.
The moment was over and he raised his head, his eyes meeting hers then moved to the streaks of water and ice that still clung to her face and he raised his fingers to brush them away, "Are you injured?"
"I do not believe so. Are you?" She responded.
He blinked and turned his head slightly in thought, "I would say the same." He froze a moment as something in her eyes caught his attention. She was not wearing her usual alert expression. It was more relaxed, her eyes seemed softer and her cheeks had a light green hue to them as the rest of her skin almost looked a pale cream. He could feel her breath on his lips and the warmth attempting to pull him in, until he heard Max calling from atop the hill.
"Solok! Are you two alright?" Max yelled.
He turned to look back up the hill and began to crawl off T'Pel, "We have both escaped any serious injury."
The Admiral gave a nervous laugh, "Good. You two gave me quite a scare. Some of the hills around here can drop off without notice."
Solok assisted T'Pel to her feel and they both began to climb the hill they had tumbled down. Once to the top Larkin walked up and scanned them both, "You may have some bruising, however I believe the snow offered quite a bit of padding on your way down."
They gave him a nod and Max began to usher them back toward the house, "Well that was some little show you two put on. I was sure you didn't stand a chance against the lieutenant for a moment there. She has pretty good aim." He gave Solok a pat on the back.
"I think you both need some more pumpkin spice. It will warm you up." Mary chimed in rubbing T'Pels shivering arms.
Solok looked over at her. He was actually not cold at all. His heart was still racing and he found the site of T'Pel's quivering lips to be unusually tantalizing. He could still remember the warmth of her breath and the sent of the pumpkin spice...and her perfume as he lingered against the warmth of her soft skin.
He blinked and looked away, realizing the path his thoughts were following and brushed them off. Allowing himself to get caught up in Max's inane conversation.
Later that evening after everyone had beamed back aboard the T'Kumbra, T'Pel was sitting by her window with a book. However she was not reading it. Instead her eyes were focused on the small blue planet below, when the door chimed.
"Enter." She said.
Larkin's form appeared and he entered, the door closing behind him, "I thought I would inquire about your well being. Are you having any pain?" He asked, walking over to sit next to her.
"I am well. There is nothing new to report, Doctor." She responded
"Good." He said, looking her over.
She cocked a brow, "What is it?"
"Something seems...changed about you." He said after a moment.
"I can not image what." Was her response as she turned her gaze back out the window.
"I will say, that it was a rather interesting position we found you and Solok in. I do not think I have ever seen Vulcans covered in so much snow." He said, getting a little more comfortable.
"Did you find the information you were searching for?" T'Pel asked, locking her eyes on him.
He gave a nod, "There were far too many samples to gain a proper assessment of the differences, however I did collect a sufficient amount of pattern samples." He answered and tilted his head, "Was he about to touch lips with you?" He asked, ignoring the obvious sign she did not wish to discuss it.
Her eyes widened and the tips of her ears gave a blush, "No. I do not think...Why would you want to know?"
"He was very close to doing so when I approached." He replied, his eyes not leaving hers.
"Then perhaps it was simply the angle you were at. Solok was attempting to assess any damage that I may have endured." Her tone was slightly becoming more agitated.
"He needed to do so...so closely?" Larkin persisted.
T'Pel set her PADD down and sighed, "I am unaware of his intentions precisely, Larkin. If you wish to know such information, you should ask the captain." She said and cocked a brow, knowing full well he would not.
He pursed his lips slightly and gave a slight smirk, "I rather like the shade of jade your cheeks turn. It tends to bring out the warmth in your eyes. It is very...un-Vulcan." He said and stood heading toward the door.
She said nothing and watched him walk out the door before returning her gaze to the small blue planet. It was a welcome change from the constant stars.