Author's Note: Yesterday’s entry was so truncated I thought you deserved an extra helping with this one. Sleep deprivation can do wonderful things to our favorite characters. As always, your reviews are much appreciated!
T’Pol bent down to survey the offerings Chef had left and stared longer than was logical at the lone slice of pecan pie. There was something about operating without uninterrupted sleep for days that made the humans’ appallingly sweet desserts more appealing. Perhaps it was the immediate boost of energy they provided, though it inevitably came at some cost to the body’s endocrine system.
However, the pecans in this pie were, she had discovered upon further research, quite nutritious.
“Well, would you look at that,” a familiar voice said, and the distinctive smell of an unwashed Commander Tucker mixed in with the aromas of desserts and sandwiches in a way that was strangely pleasant. Lack of sleep was apparently having all sorts of deleterious effects on her senses. “I think I know what I’m having,” he said. “Unless, of course, you want it?”
“No,” T’Pol said. She chose a fruit salad instead, and sat down. Tucker got a glass of milk and joined her without asking permission, but she had expected as much and found that she did not mind. It would be illogical to sit at separate tables when they could consult about the status of repairs.
“We could split it,” he said, apparently still concerned about having appropriated the pie.
“No, thank you.”
“How about just a few bites? I’ll let you go first.”
A bite or two of that cloying sweetness was about as much as she ever wanted, actually. Phlox seemed to feel that directly helping oneself to the food on other people’s plates was acceptable behavior on this ship, so perhaps it was, although in truth she had seldom observed that behavior among the humans. But since Tucker had offered, she took her spoon and scooped up a generous mouthful.
When she looked up, Tucker had a startled grin on his face.
“The flavor is agreeable,” she said. “Thank you.”
“Have some more.”
“One bite was sufficient. It is extremely sweet.” Didn’t he realize that using this utensil on his pie again would offend against the principles of aseptic technique? She turned to her fruit salad. It seemed much less sweet than usual. No doubt the blast of excess sucrose in the pie had overwhelmed her taste buds.
“Are you sure?” Tucker said enticingly.
“I am positive.”
“All right, then.” He smiled and took a bite. “Mmmm. That’s just heaven.”
Apparently human beliefs about an afterlife involved sweetness. Perhaps this was a comfort to people who lived such short life spans. Or perhaps it was simply another of Tucker’s many metaphors. “What is the status of our repairs?” she asked.
As usual, he started speaking before he had quite finished swallowing. This was perhaps the greatest pitfall of the humans’ habit of speaking during meals, though over time she had grown used to the inevitable glimpses of half-masticated food in the engineer’s mouth. “The plasma relays are back in shape. Right now I’m focused on helping Malcolm get that aft cannon up and running. And I still need to take a good hard look at the shunts I set up to make sure we won’t burn out the grav plating if we fire all three cannons at once -- or have to do more sustained firing.”
“But you will get some sleep tonight?” Like most of the crew, Tucker looked exhausted.
“Oh hell, yeah,” Tucker said. “It’s a shower and bed right after this.”
The conversation lapsed as they each attended to the food in front of them. Eventually, the mess hall door slid open to reveal Ensign Sato, who nodded politely before she went to survey the offerings.
T’Pol suddenly realized that she had been idly imagining Commander Tucker in his shower. Having shared decon together, she had a pretty clear (but of course incomplete) idea of how this would look. She closed her eyes in minor irritation at her loss of focus.
Perhaps it was Tucker’s fault. Wasn’t speaking of one’s shower fairly intimate information to share with a fellow officer? Was this intentionally provocative behavior on his part, or was she was just oddly provoked by it? She’d never spent time imagining any other man in a shower before. Perhaps this was a symptom of sleep deprivation, too.
Ensign Sato interpreted Tucker’s smile as an invitation to sit down with a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of water at their table. “Chocolate,” she said, reverently.
“You ever tasted chocolate cake?” Tucker asked T’Pol.
“Maybe you should try a bite.”
“No thank you.”
“Oh, you really should, Sub-Commander,” Sato said. “I don’t know how I’d survive days like these without chocolate. Here, take a bite.”
“Perhaps another time.”
The ensign took a bite and closed her eyes in apparent ecstasy. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Heaven?” T’Pol said, and both humans looked startled.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” Sato said, with a sidelong look at Commander Tucker, whose expression had turned to one of stifled amusement.
T’Pol said, “Have you determined Lieutenant Reed’s favorite food yet? His birthday is tomorrow.”
Sato grinned. “Yes! Pineapple. Chef is going to bake a pineapple cake for him.”
“Pineapple? I never would have guessed that,” Tucker said. He pointed at T’Pol’s bowl. “Look, you got some right there.”
“It is a unique flavor,” T’Pol said. “I take it Mr. Reed provided this information?” No doubt her suggestion had been helpful.
Sato’s face clouded. “No.” She shot a slightly irritated look at T’Pol.
“You didn’t ask him?” She was disappointed that Sato would ignore such a logical suggestion.
“Oh, I asked him all right. Unfortunately, he thought I was…” She glanced at Tucker and shook her head in embarrassment. “ . . . making overtures.”
Tucker started laughing. “Seriously?”
“He said he was flattered but he didn’t think that would be appropriate between two people serving together. It was extremely embarrassing!” Sato, however, had begun to laugh along with Tucker. “And it’s all your fault, Sub-Commander!”
T’Pol watched the two humans giggle. Their words did not match up to their affects in any way that made sense to her. “I apologize. Would you like me to explain the matter to him?”
Sato said, “NO! No, no, no. I clarified that with him already. Let’s just . . . let it be.”
“I don’t know, Hoshi. Maybe you should ask him to join you for dessert,” Tucker said. “Go on, call him right now!”
“Shut up!” Sato said, though she seemed amused more than anything. “I shouldn’t have told you.”
Tucker was grinning widely. “Come on. We could make it a double date.”
T’Pol eyed him with confusion. Did he think they were on a date? Tucker saw her expression and suddenly turned pink. “I must be getting really punchy. I think it’s time to call it a night. Sub-Commander. Ensign.”
He took his plate away and left. T’Pol watched him go and thought again about that shower. A shower for herself would be agreeable about now, too.
That was one thing about life on this ship that she appreciated. Vulcans were parsimonious with water, with good reason, but Humans luxuriated in it, expending a great deal of energy just to ensure a steady supply even while they were away from their watery planet.
“So, do Vulcans date?” Sato asked.
“If by ‘date’ you mean participate in casual social engagements in an attempt to establish a romantic connection with someone, then no, Vulcans do not date.”
“Then how do you . . . you know . . . meet somebody?”
“Vulcans are betrothed in childhood.”
T’Pol had expected another horrified reaction to arranged marriages, but Sato merely looked curious. “So you’re betrothed to somebody right now?”
“Actually, my betrothal has been broken,” T’Pol said. At least, so she believed. Certainly there had been no further word from Koss’s parents.
“Oh.” Sato looked as if she wasn’t sure what the proper reaction to this was. “So how will you meet someone now?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
“So you might never marry?”
“That is possible.” Certainly it was her one of her mother’s concerns.
“Well, but what’s the rush?” Sato said. “It’s not like we have time for that sort of thing right now, right?” She stood up and gave T’Pol a commiserating smile. “But you should definitely try some chocolate one of these days.”
T’Pol sat alone in the mess hall for a few minutes, wondering what logical connection, if any, might lie between not being betrothed and eating chocolate, but nothing occurred to her. Perhaps she should consult the Humans’ database.
First, however, she would take that shower.
Next installment: Dear Doctor.
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