Author's Note: This little ditty was inspired by T'Pol's comment to Hoshi that, "For all we know, it was Mister Tucker's table manners that offended them." Thank you as always, reviewers!
Commander Tucker followed up his sardonic commentary on their shortest First Contact ever with something more practical: “Well, there’s still a perfectly delicious lunch in the conference room. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d just as soon finish my meal.”
“I’ve lost my appetite,” Archer said with a sour grimace, and stalked off down the corridor.
“Me too,” Hoshi said with a sigh, and followed him.
That left T’Pol contemplating her choices. She could go without her midday meal and attempt to calm their clearly disgruntled captain, or she could sit at the table with Commander Tucker and watch him shovel food into his mouth with his usual hearty abandon.
“It wouldn’t be logical to waste all that good food,” Trip suggested.
This was true. Nor did the captain tend to appreciate her notes and observations on failed missions until he’d had a suitable ‘cooling down’ period. So she followed the engineer back to the conference room.
Trip reclaimed his plate and resumed his meal. “So what do you suppose set them off?” he asked, with his mouth full.
“It is impossible to know,” T’Pol said. She carefully sliced her fruit. “But they did appear to be staring at our mouths in some degree of horror.”
“You eat like you mate…” Tucker mused. “How the hell do they know how we mate?”
“No doubt they generalized from their own experience. The process of mating tends to be quite similar across humanoid species.”
“Oh yeah? You’ve seen comparisons?”
She looked up. He had a suspiciously merry glint in his eyes. “Knowledge of a species’ reproductive functions is an inescapable aspect of any serious study of exo-biology,” she said.
“Hmm. I don’t recall Mr. Velik saying anything about Vulcan mating in my high school exo-biology class. I’m quite sure I would have remembered something like that.”
“We do not speak of such matters if it can be avoided. No doubt he did not consider your class to be sufficiently in need of the information.”
“Well, at any rate,” Tucker said, “I know mouths come into it, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not the first parts of the body I think about when I think about mating.”
“No,” T’Pol agreed. “I cannot think of any humanoid species that procreates through the mouth. Digestion and insemination are generally mutually exclusive.”
Tucker had been drinking some milk and suddenly spit some of it back into the glass.
“Commander?” she asked, concerned. This was a new low in table etiquette, even for him.
His face was red. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Please, don’t mind me.” He seemed to be trying very hard not to laugh.
“I said something that amused you?”
He smiled and shook his head. “No, no, no, Subcommander. For a moment there I just got this... image…” He shook his head. “You know, let’s just drop it, okay?” He cleared his throat. “You think there’s anything we can do to make nice with the Kreetassans now?”
“I don’t know. They are somewhat notoriously difficult to please.”
“Kinda prickly, huh?” He smiled warmly at her. “Maybe we’ll just have to be persistent, then.”
Next installment: Fallen Hero.
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