Dear Readers: This is my attempt at the oft-requested body-switch story. It's definitely pre-Harbinger, but I'm not sure if they're in the Expanse or not. You decide.
As always, many kudos to justTrip'n for her beta skills and graciousness.
T'Pol's voice bounced off the walls of sickbay. Dr. Phlox and Captain Archer looked in the direction of the sound.
The situation was serious. And peculiar. Commander Tucker and Subcommander T'Pol sat on a biobed while the results of their neurological scans scrolled by on monitors next to them.
They had been surveying on the surface of a planet when they were suddenly rendered unconscious. When they awoke, they found themselves in this rather serious and very peculiar situation.
Somehow, someway, their minds had traded places with their bodies.
Subcommander T'Pol had a calm, intent look on Commander Tucker's face while trying to absorb the facts of their predicament. Too bad his human physiology betrayed that calm with nervous sweating.
Fortunately for her, it was the look of panic, quickly morphing into horror, currently on Subcommander T'Pol's face that had everyone's attention. All stared, partly out of curiosity as to why Tucker was panicking, but mostly because it was so funny to see that look crossing that face.
Her voice …was that a southern twang… echoed once again.
"No. No. Aw, hell no!"
Captain Archer did his best to control his smirk. "What's wrong now, Trip?"
"I gotta go to the bathroom."
Trip and T'Pol looked into their own eyes, each wide with realization.
T'Pol took a deep breath with Trip's lungs, "Then you must do so."
Trip hung T'Pol's head in resignation and slid her petite frame off the biobed. Shoulders slumped, he moved towards the restroom. He quietly mumbled to her, "I'll try not to look."
Archer, after a valiant struggle not to bite off his own tongue, called out "Remember to sit down."
Trip poked T'Pol's head around the corner of sickbay—the Captain was (mercifully) gone and Phlox was busy looking over scans. He caught his, no . . . T'Pol's eye and beckoned her over with a finger.
He gestured to the uniform he wore. "How do you get out of this thing?"
She pursed his lips and struggled not to roll his eyes, "I will assist you."
He stopped short, realizing that it was her uniform and her body in question.
Somebody shoot me.
He then realized that it was his eyes that were going to get to see what he had always wondered about.
Please, somebody shoot me.
Commander Tucker's body walked determinedly into Engineering, hands firmly clasped behind his back. Subcommander T'Pol found herself, or at least her lower half, protruding out of a maintenance compartment. She knew that he was accustomed to such positions, but it was disconcerting to see her hindquarters displayed in such an undignified manner.
There was a thump and a "Dammit!"
It was also disconcerting to hear vulgarity coming from her mouth.
Her body emerged from the compartment; uniform, face, and hands covered in grease. "Any luck on switchin' us back?"
She had actually managed to conform his vocal chords to some semblance of proper speech. "Not yet. Would you care to join me for lunch?"
"Sure, let me clean up."
Please, she silently chided him
Trip had wiped most of the grim off her face and was working on her hands when he scowled, "Dang! I chipped a nail."
Commander Tucker strode and Subcommander T'Pol sauntered into the mess hall.
T'Pol's hands slapped together and rubbed in anticipation, "I'm starving."
"I suggest you moderate your consumption. I do not intake as many calories as you are accustomed to."
"Oh yeah, sure." Trip looked over the selections for the day, trying to decide. T'Pol choose a large salad and fruit plate in order to compensate for Commander Tucker's higher caloric requirement.
She sat down at a corner table, well aware of the stares and hushed comments. She could not be disturbed by this. It was a peculiar situation. Her body soon joined her.
"You are NOT eating that."
Her angled eyebrows shot up in question. "What?"
A small steak and mashed potatoes awaited consumption on the plate.
"You cannot eat meat."
"But I've got a hankerin' for steak!"
"I do not care what you have a … hankering … for." She rose and moved to take the plate with the offending animal carcass away.
Trip grabbed his arm to stop her. "Hey! That's my dinner!"
"I will retrieve you something more appropriate."
"I don't like bein' stuck like this either. Do you hafta go and make it worse?"
Before she could stop herself, an exasperated sigh escaped his lips, "Commander, my digestive system is unused to animal protein."
Her eyes stared back at her.
"I would prefer it if you did not cause my body to vomit."
Realization set in. "Ah. Right. I suppose that would be worse."
"All right. I'll go get a salad." Snatching the juicy steak away, he shuffled her feet over to the counter. "But I'm gettin' ranch dressing!"
Trip's leg slipped out of position again.
T'Pol was gaining a new appreciation for her own body. With ease and grace, she could lower herself to a seated lotus position for meditation.
This body on the other hand … this human, male body was not cooperative. His leg kept popping out of position. She settled for a less ambitious cross-legged position.
The candles burned brightly in front of her. It had been an inordinately trying day, and was proving to be a similar evening. That said, she had acquired a unique insight into the workings of the human male mind. She had not been aware of how much of it was directed by the body.
She was not too surprised by the need for activity or even the compulsion to take out frustration on nearby inanimate objects. There was another, more disquieting, urge that captured her thoughts. Vulcans had obtained contradictory reports on human sexuality, but it was known that humans copulated without regard to cycles, male or female; that they were much less monogamous than Vulcans; and that, in the absence of set cycles, sexual arousal was initiated by wide variety of everyday cues. She had often wondered how one coped with a reproductive system that was permanently "on call." Now she knew. At various times during the work day, T'Pol had found herself becoming aroused; each time she had calmly suppressed the reaction, using mental discipline and breathing techniques. She was not troubled by this involuntary human reflex. What was troubling that it only seemed to happen in the presence of her body.
Before she had the chance to fully analyze any Freudian implications of such a realization, her chime rang.
In walked her body. "Hey. Captain Archer just called me. Seems there's some alien down on the planet that was curious about us. Apparently it's telepathic and was trying to figure out if we were a threat. I wasn't on the bridge when the Cap'n got the call. Anyway, this telepath got us mixed up somehow and that's how we got switched. We just hafta go back down there and he'll put us back."
"Very good. Let me put my boots back on."
Trip sat her body down on the cot and waited. He got a whiff of something altogether pleasant and that reminded him: "Oh. And spending all day in your body has given me real appreciation of your sense of smell." A lopsided grin looked awkward on her face. "I always figured we were just a strange or unfamiliar smell to you, but phew… we're downright stinky!"
One of Trip's eyebrows lifted in acknowledgement.
He took a deep breath with her nose. "It's nice in here." Another deep breath. "Yeah, real nice." Whatever it was, he couldn't seem to get enough of it. Maybe it was just because he had been smelling humans all day. He got up to find the source.
"What do you think it is?"
"I am uncertain. All the scents in here are familiar."
He bent over the candles. No. There was an old oil lamp on the desk. No, not that either. He went into her bathroom. Nope.
"Huh. Wonder what it is?"
"We need to return to the surface."
"Right. We're meeting Travis in the shuttle bay."
They left her quarters and headed to the turbo lift. The doors opened and they stepped inside.
The scent was in here too. Trip started sniffing around again to find the source, but the doors opened one deck down and they were off to the shuttle bay.
In a purely habitual response, Trip let T'Pol enter the shuttle first. They could both tell Travis was a bit uncertain about the whole 'body-switch' situation. The journey down to the surface was a quiet one.
The scent was following him. He found himself taking deep breaths just to get more. It wasn't on his current body, 'cause he's been smelling that all day. Although… she is awfully nice. But not this nice. It was in her room, on the lift, now it's in the shuttle. He was perplexed. Unless…
No. Couldn't be. Could it?
He turned her head, leaned a little into his body and took a sniff.
No way. No freakin' way.
She glanced his eyes at herself as he took a bolder smell.
He abruptly sat her upright. Realization dawned on them both. Her lips parted as he was about to speak.
"We're here Commander, Subcommander."
The shuttle touched down and Travis turned around to open the hatch.
He closed her mouth. She quickly walked his body outside to find the mysterious alien that would put things back to normal.
"Glad to have you both back."
"Good to be back, sir."
Trip Tucker, back in his own body, stabbed another piece of steak and brought it to his mouth.
Still chewing, he spoke. "Oh yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about."
Captain Archer silently laughed at his old friend. He glanced at his stoic science officer. She was even more stoic than usual this evening.
"Something the matter, Subcommander? You seem even more quiet than usual."
"There is nothing wrong, Captain. I was simply appreciating being back within my own body."
"Well, can't say I understand how you feel. And, if you don't mind, I hope I never do."
Trip had taken another bite of steak and was chewing silently while they talked. He leveled his eyes on her. She nervously flicked her eyes towards him; only to look away again.
After dinner, Trip and T'Pol silently walked down the corridor. When they reached the junction, she turned to continue to her quarters. Trip turned to her and called out, "have a pleasant evening, Subcommander."
She turned back to him, eyebrow lifted in sight confusion. He had this gentle, knowing smile on his lips.
"Thank you," she answered.
She entered her cabin. She changed into her evening wear and lit her meditation candles. As she sat down with ease and grace, her eyes caught a foreign object on her bunk. She got back up to investigate.
It was a Starfleet turtleneck shirt, as worn under the jumpsuit. It was obviously not hers. Someone must have placed it there, but there was no indication as to whom. It was not needed. One breath and she knew.
This was a seriously peculiar situation, indeed.
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