Blue Christmas

By Distracted

Rating: PG

Genres: adventure humour

Keywords: E2 Lorien

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Summary:  A story set in the E2 universe.

Author’s note:  This one’s for panyasan.  What she asked for:

1. Characters: Trip, T'Pol and a crew member with a lower rank, for example the galley master, someone from engineering or the science department.
2. Setting: on a mission of exploration the crew needs Trip and T'Pol’s great scientific team work and some Vulcan logic to save the day. [Make up your own new world!]
3. Style: humour and adventure, with hints about Christmas and at least one sentence in a language that is not the native language of the writer (Vulcan counts as well, as long if you don't quote Surak).

Prompt: Blue snow

 Merry Christmas!  Guess what foreign language I’m using.  ]; ) 


                  

 The cliff glowed with an eerie blue light.  It loomed hundreds of meters above their heads, looking impossibly precarious.  Huge blocks of jagged ice and boulders were piled haphazardly at its foot  They extended for kilometers in either direction, disappearing into the snow-shrouded horizon to either side of the wall that seemed to divide the planet in half.  The away party gathered at a nominally safe distance from the tumbled scree. Commanders Tucker and T’Pol, bundled into sub-zero protective gear and wearing snowshoes, were flanked on three sides by Arctic trained MACOs in snowsuits and led by their “native” guide from Enterprise’s geology department.

“Would ya look at that!  It’s blue!”  marveled Trip, his grin hidden behind the face mask, blue eyes peeking out of the fur-lined border of his parka hood.  T’Pol could sense his joy and wonder at the sight.  Ordinarily it would have pleased her to be party to his enjoyment, but she was too cold to be pleased. As the thought occurred to her, Trip shot her a worried glance.  She sent back wordless apology.  Her concern over Lorien’s well-being was affecting her mood.  Trip gave her a reassuring smile.  

“There are blue glaciers on Earth,” said Lieutenant Sharwa with a shrug.  “Ordinary snowbanks are even blue a half-meter or so in.  It’s the packed ice absorbing the red light frequencies.”  The barrel-chested little geologist acted as if he seen the effect thousands of times.  Perhaps he had.  His home in the Himalayas certainly had its share of ice and snow.  In his gloved hand Sharwa held a portable geologic sensor capable of detecting the deposits of unrefined dilithium they’d found from orbit.  He pointed it at the cliff.  “The closest deposit is roughly five hundred meters from our current position, at the foot of the glacier,” he told them.

“It seems a very unstable location to mine,” T’Pol replied.  “Do you see any alternative sites?”

“None that aren’t covered in a half-kilometer of glacial ice,” said Sharwa, studying the readout.  The system’s bright yellow sun suddenly broke from cloud cover. The geologist’s eyes disappeared in his swarthy face as he squinted in the intense whiteness.  He pulled goggles down. T’Pol felt her inner eyelids deploy.  The MACO next to her did a double take and stared at her eyes in evident fascination.  Then his eyes left her face and strayed downward to her chest.  It was encased in several layers of insulating fabric, and yet it drew his attention.  She raised a brow at him.  She’d noticed Trip doing the same thing ever since the third trimester of her pregnancy.  Now that she was nursing, virtually every male member of the crew was doing it.  The tendency perplexed her.  Yes, her mammary organs were larger than usual due to lactation, but surely these men had seen breasts before.

The muscular fellow flushed and looked away hurriedly.  He pulled his own goggles down and hefted his pack a bit higher on his shoulders.  It was awkwardly bulky, as were the packs of the others, but they’d had little choice in the matter.  It had required a diligent search of the Vulcan database to find the plans for a portable Andorian-style ice-miner.  Trip had done his best to re-create the device but it hadn’t been tested yet.  And T’Pol, despite the fact that she was the only crew member aboard Enterprise other than Ensign Sato capable of understanding the operating directions in their original Andorian, was not entirely certain she’d be able to operate it without causing an avalanche.

An exercise in desperation.  That’s what Trip had called it when they were still in the planning stages.  It was an excellent description of their current mission.  Unfortunately, the anomaly that had taken out their dilithium matrix had left them with no other options.  Enterprise was dead in space without fuel, in orbit around a planet swathed in glaciers—hardly a desirable colony world despite its Earth-like gravity and atmosphere.  T’Pol did not relish the idea of spending the remainder of her life in a place like this, however beautiful it might be.

“Very well, Lieutenant.  Proceed,” she told Sharwa.  The sturdy geologist dipped his head at her in acknowledgement, thus becoming the acting commander of the expedition.

“Line up!  Check harnesses and carabiners!” he bellowed.  The three MACOs jumped to it, positioning themselves in alternating fashion between Sharwa and the two commanders as if they’d been practicing for months.  With admirable efficiency they attached themselves to a reinforced synthetic rope with Sharwa at its head.  T’Pol’s overly interested escort was all business as he checked her harness, and soon they were trekking across the expanse of treacherous snow-covered terrain toward the base of the glacier.

Their route was serpentine rather than direct, following the safer path as determined by Sharwa’s instincts and experience.  As they approached the cliff the terrain became rocky and rough, forcing them to remove their snowshoes and to begin climbing among the boulders.  It took them over an hour to travel the last hundred meters.  Atop a huge flat boulder Sharwa called a halt for assembly of the mining device. The glacier loomed above them like a cresting wave frozen in the act of crashing down.  T’Pol could sense Trip’s emotions as he got to work.  He was focused and unafraid, intent on assembling the machine.  His single-mindedness steadied her.  A beep from her communicator reminded her that she had yet to check in.

“Bridge to away team.  Status report.”  The captain’s voice was calmer than she would have expected given their current situation.

“T’Pol here.  We have reached the site.  Estimated time to initial testing…,” she paused and studied what Trip and his burly assistants had unloaded so far,  “…twenty minutes.  We’ll keep you informed, Captain.”  T’Pol bit her lip before asking about Lorian.  It was an illogical request.  Someone would inform her if her child was unwell. 

“Understood.  Bridge out.”

The construction team of MACOs made swift work of the frame of the device under Sharwa’s guidance, bolting it securely into the icy rock surrounding their planned excavation site while Trip and T’Pol sorted through the pieces of the disassembled miner.  Within minutes, Sharwa approached the two of them, panting with effort but with a wide smile on his face.

Bhaiyo, Commanders.  The frame is done.  Krismas ko subhakamana, Merry Christmas!” Trip looked up from his labors and grinned.

“Why, thanks so much, Sharwa.  It’s just what I wanted!" he replied ironically.  T’Pol glanced from one to the other, perplexed.  She’d never understood the human tendency to make poor attempts at humor in the face of mortal danger.

Trip winked at her and then began assembling the drill, which was similar in principle to an oversized phase rifle.  Designed to shoot a beam of white-hot plasma, it instantly sublimated snow and ice, superheating the underlying rock and allowing it to be pumped in liquid form into a holding chamber which exuded the resultant magma while retaining purified dilithium.  The tremendous heat of the process risked melting the glacial ice around them, creating a high risk of avalanche.  As she’d expected, Trip stood and faced her with a serious expression on his face as soon as the device was assembled.  She could feel his determination to “talk some sense into her”.  She squared her jaw, preparing for the onslaught.  He was stubborn, but she was still in command.  He spoke softly, out of earshot of the lower ranking members of the away team. 

“You’ve done your job now, T’Pol.  You made sure we put it together right.  Now get outta here and let us mine some dilithium.”  His jaw was set; his blue eyes sparkled dangerously.  T’Pol matched his obstinate glare.

“I am here to operate this machine and I intend to do so,” she replied quietly.  “You have done your job.  The device is assembled.  You are dismissed, Commander.”  To T’Pol’s chagrin, instead of taking her order seriously, Trip just smiled at her.  She could sense his frustrated amusement, and behind it, his concern for her.  He shook his head, chuckling, his tongue stuck in one cheek.  She held his gaze, keeping emotion sternly in check.

“C’mon, T’Pol,” Trip coaxed.  “What if somethin’ happens?  Lorian needs you.”

“If ‘something happens’ then we’re stranded on this planet,” countered T’Pol, “and the crew of Enterprise, including Lorian, are colonists in a place where their continued survival may very well depend on your engineering skills.  I have the most experience with Andorian technology.  I’ve also committed the operations manual to memory.  I can recite for you the proper procedure for shut-down in the event of equipment failure.  Can you do the same?”  It was an unfair question, she knew. His instincts and experience would guide him to make the correct decisions even in the absence of an operations manual.  But he’d been occupied with constructing the machine.  He’d had no time to devote to memorization of protocols. 

“Okay,” Trip conceded, his arms crossed stubbornly over his chest.  “Fine.  We both stay.  That way you can follow your ‘operations manual’ and I can try to fix the damned thing if it starts to fall apart.”  T’Pol raised a brow.  As much as she disliked the idea of Trip being in harm’s way, his skills would prove invaluable given such a scenario.  And anything which increased their chances of replacing the Enterprise’s dilithium supply put the entire ship’s complement, including Lorian, closer to safety.

“Very well,” she replied.  Trip’s smile brightened.  His triumph would have been obvious even without the bond.  He stepped aside, extending a hand ahead of them both.

“After you, m’dear.”  The endearment gave her a pang, and for a second she regretted her decision, but this man was not only her husband.  He was also Chief Engineer, and she was his XO. 


 

 

Liz Cutler stood in the mess hall inspecting the decorations for the Christmas party planned for 1800 that evening.  She had Lorian strapped to her chest in a sling.  Feezal clung to her leg, whining to be picked up, her mouth twisted into contortions only possible for a half-Denobulan child.

I love how Phlox volunteers to babysit Lorian and then claims he’s ‘delegating nursing duties’ when he hands the baby off to me, she thought in resignation. In all fairness, Lorian was refusing the bottles Commander T’Pol had left, and Phlox had volunteered to watch his little darling while Liz took care of Lorian, but he knew very well that Feezal wasn’t going to be willing to stay in Sickbay when Mommy was elsewhere. 

Ensign Sato waved at her from a stepstool beside the “Christmas tree” that Hydroponics had cobbled together from a metal framework adorned with climbing vines.  She’d just hung the lights. 

“How does it look?” she called.

The poor thing looked like Charlie Brown’s proverbial Christmas tree, pre-makeover, but Liz wasn’t about to say so.  Morale was low enough as it was with everyone contemplating the prospect of spending the rest of their lives living in igloos like Eskimos.

“Looks terrific!” Liz called back with a smile.  Her voice woke Lorian, who began to wail.  Liz took a look around the room as she jiggled the baby.  A sad-looking little sprig of mistletoe was above each exit.  The tables were covered with every scrap of red or green fabric the quartermaster could muster up.  On each table a green plant of some sort sprouted from a pot.  On each plant hung small homemade ornaments of all kinds made out of everything from tin foil from the kitchen to spare nuts and bolts from engineering.  Larger ornaments and ribbons decorated the “tree”. 

The planet below them had no plant life but cold-resistant lichen and Xenobiology was still working on whether the indigenous fauna was digestible for humans, but Chef had promised to do his best with the food stores they had left.  At least the music being piped in over the comm was cheerful enough.

It would be a party to be proud of, Liz decided, determined to look on the bright side.  When she’d been “volunteered” to be the coordinator of the Christmas party she’d initially panicked, but after a long talk with her ever-supportive and optimistic husband she’d decided that she wouldn’t stress it.  She would just do her best with the first major task she’d undertaken in two years that didn’t directly involve taking care of her daughter.  Being the primary caregiver of a special needs child didn’t leave much time for outside activities, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t still capable of doing them.

Lorian’s cry grew more insistent, so Liz moved to an out-of-the way table in the corner of the room, sat down with a relieved sigh, and made some adjustments to her clothing beneath the sling.  The familiar twinge of pleasure-pain and the blessed silence after Lorian latched on made her nostalgic for the days when Feezal was so easily satisfied.

Feezal, for her part, promptly climbed into Liz’s lap.  She blinked curiously at the baby her mother was devoting so much attention to, but unlike a fully human child of the same age she seemed not in the least bit jealous of him.

“Babee Loree nuss now?” she asked.  Feezal’s verbal skills were advanced for a two year old.  Liz smiled at her, smoothing her sparse brown hair out of her eyes.

“Yes.  Lorian is nursing,” she agreed.  Feezal looked too much like her father to be conventionally pretty by human standards, but she was resilient and remarkably intelligent.  She was also a handful, primarily because she rarely slept more than two hours at a stretch, and that only every couple of days. Phlox seemed to think that her sleep pattern would normalize as she got older, but what “normal” would prove to be was anyone’s guess.  She didn’t seem be developing a hibernation schedule like her father, nor was she capable of staying up for weeks at a time like he did.  For now, her half-human nervous system was compromising by forcing sleep only when it became absolutely necessary.  During the first twelve hours or so of one of her “cycles” she was affectionate, compliant, and eager to try new things—every mother’s dream child—but the wild mood changes she experienced as she became increasingly exhausted made the usual human “terrible twos” seem benign by comparison.  Finally her little body just gave out.  Phlox called the resultant episodes “sleep attacks”, an appropriate term since she tended to drop in her tracks, sometimes mid-tantrum, and fall asleep on the floor at unpredictable intervals.  Liz didn’t dare leave her in the ship’s day care except on her good days, and she didn’t want to miss a minute of those.

When Liz couldn’t deal with not sleeping anymore, Phlox took his turn.  He’d tried literally everything to get Feezal to sleep in her short lifetime—rocking, walking around for hours holding her, classical music, even singing to her.  Liz winced at the memory.  Commander Tucker had even made an odd device that vibrated her crib to lull her to sleep when she was a tiny infant, but it had just kept her awake.  Even sedation didn’t work.  When the drugs wore off she woke up just as cranky as she was before.

As if Feezal could sense what her mother was thinking, instead of demanding to nurse as Liz expected she just stuck a thumb in her mouth, snuggled in, and fell instantly asleep.  After a second of frozen disbelief, Liz slowly rested her head on the wall behind her and closed her eyes, enjoying the moment of respite.  Feezal’s soft baby snores were punctuated by Lorian’s vigorous smacking.  Over the comm, the classic version of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” began to play.  It matched her mood.

“Hey.  Doc sent me to see if you need some help. Want me to take her?” asked a quiet, familiar voice.  Liz opened her eyes and gave Amanda Cole a tired smile.  The MACO-turned-medic was part of Phlox’s nursing team and Liz’s indispensible right hand woman when it came to dealing with Feezal.

“Sure, sweetie.  That would be great.  She just passed out, so she should be fine to move.”  Not even a warp core breach could wake Feezal in the first quarter of an hour after she fell asleep.

Liz moved one arm so that Amanda could lift the toddler beneath shoulders and knees and hoist her on to one shoulder.  She hung there like a limp rag doll, still snoring.  Lorian continued to nurse, oblivious to any disturbance.  Liz watched Amanda cradle Feezal gently in her arms and rest her lips for a second on the top of Feezal’s little head, looking wistful.  For a woman without children Amanda was surprisingly good with them.  Unfortunately, being skilled at relating to children didn’t translate into an ability to relate to men.  Liz had been her sounding board through at least six nasty breakups in the past two years.  The girl was running out of available candidates.  Practically the only man on board who wasn’t afraid of her was Phlox.

“We’ll be in your quarters when you’re done with the decorations,” whispered Amanda, her expression concerned.  “You look exhausted.  Why don’t you just delegate all this and come home for lunch?”

“I’m coming soon,” Liz reassured her. 

Lunch would no doubt be delicious. Amanda was a surprisingly good cook for such a tough military girl.  She’d been training with Chef, learning to prepare healthy low-calorie meals. At first, Liz’s plan had been cooking lessons for herself, but Feezal had had a melt-down the first day she’d tried to go to a lesson and Amanda had volunteered to go in her stead.  Since then Amanda had tried to teach Liz to cook, but the MACO was much better at it.  Unless Phlox was tempted with special meals he tended to eat whatever high calorie junk happened to pass in front of him.  Since she’d volunteered to cook for them Phlox had lost five kilos.

 As she watched Amanda leave with Feezal, it occurred to Liz that her husband’s cultural traditions had more potential benefit than she’d previously appreciated.  Phlox had tried in the first year after Feezal was born to suggest to her that what she needed was another husband to help her, especially during his hibernation cycles, but what woman wanted another husband?  One was enough work for anyone.  What she needed was a wife.


 

 

The dense cloud of steam began to dissipate as soon as the drill penetrated the ice layer.  It bit into rock with an ear-splitting whine.  Once Trip could see his hand in front of his face again, he checked the readout on the dilithium reservoir.  Sharwa’s sensors had shown a rich deposit directly under their feet, but Trip wasn’t sure how long it would take to mine enough unrefined dilithium for their purposes.  The indicator showed a sliver of blue.  As he watched it crept upward a couple of millimeters.  Progress, he thought, grinning.  He looked up and saw T’Pol through the haze, sitting in the operator’s seat protected by the tritanium cage he’d added to the original plans, wearing the sound neutralizing earphones and hard hat he’d insisted she wear despite the fact that their use wasn’t in her precious operations manual.  Andorians were apparently not big on on-the-job safety.  She looked down when she sensed him trying to get her attention and Trip gave her a thumbs-up.  She nodded, then returned her attention to the task at hand.  He could sense her satisfaction.  He could also tell how uncomfortable she was.  The temperature of their surroundings had increased to tropical levels.  Trip had shed his outer layer of clothes in response to the heat, but T’Pol’s hands were full.  In snow gear it was even too hot up there for a Vulcan.  Not only that, but she really needed to nurse.  The feeling was peculiar, even second-hand, like his chest was about to explode.  She was ignoring her discomfort, focused completely on the engine temperature readouts, keeping the course of the drill steady to prevent overheating.  Too much heat risked an explosion which would bring the entire cliff down on top of them.  Even without an explosion there was still that risk.

A meter to either side of where Trip stood ran twin runnels of molten slag which had melted deep steaming channels into the ice.  The mini-smelter within the drill unit pumped the slag out very rapidly and at a high temperature so it wouldn’t solidify until it was meters away from the outflow, but the rock was pooling and solidifying at the base of the glacier, gradually melting away the ice.

Sharwa waved from his vantage point a hundred meters away.  The rest of the team was grouped around him.  Trip activated his communicator with one eye on the dilithium reservoir.

“Tucker to transporter room.  Do you have a lock on the support team?”

“Hess here. I have a lock.  Sensors show seismic activity in your immediate vicinity, though, Commander.  Don’t you want me to transport you and Commander T’Pol?”

“Negative, Hess.  Don’t worry about the seismic activity.  It’s an artifact of the mining process.  I’ll let you know when to bring us in.  Just get Sharma and the MACOs out of here.  And keep a lock on the dilithium reservoir.  If something happens make sure that gets up first.  It’s more important than we are.”  There was a pause, as if Anna Hess was contemplating arguing with him.

I understand, sir.  Energizing.”

Sharwa and the trio of MACOs dissolved in a shimmer.  Just as they did so Trip felt a shower of icy wetness on his cheeks.  He looked up.  The local heat pocket was melting the ice on the cliff face.  Streams of water ran freely, splashing over the boulders and hissing as they hit the sluggishly flowing streams of molten rock still issuing from the drill.  Looking up made Trip light-headed.  His vision grayed for a second until he blinked and realized that it wasn’t his own lightheadedness he was feeling. It was T’Pol’s.  She sat in the operator’s chair, still determinedly focused mentally, but she was wavering physically.

The dilithium reservoir read only fifty percent full.  Trip wasn’t certain of the purity of the dilithium they were mining, but even at one hundred percent pure it was barely enough.  So he gripped the struts of the drilling frame and started to climb.

The heat hit him in full force when he reached the operator’s platform and entered the cage to sit beside T’Pol.  It was like an oven in the cage.  T’Pol sat grimly holding on to the manual controls, sweat streaming freely from her face from beneath her hard hat and earphones, her parka hood sodden and pushed to the back of her neck.

“Hey there,” he shouted over the noise, smiling with determined cheerfulness.  “I thought Vulcans didn’t sweat.”  Her eyes cut to his face for a second and then back down to the readouts.

“Vulcans don’t sweat.  We glow,” she deadpanned.

“If you let me take those for a minute you could take off some of those clothes,” he yelled. She raised a brow.

“Now that’s one you haven’t tried before,” she returned.  Trip just laughed at that and reached for the controls.  She let him take them.

“Keep the heat indicator out of the blue range,” she told him.  Then she began stripping off clothing.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied,  and kept his eyes dutifully on the readouts despite the strong temptation to enjoy the sight of her getting undressed just one last time before the glacier blew up in their faces.

“I’ll take those.”  T’Pol’s hands covered his, and he relinquished the controls gladly.  It was surprisingly difficult to keep the drill beam under control manually.

“Why aren’t you using the autocontrol I installed?” he asked her.  When his eyes left the readouts and fell upon her again he stopped breathing for a second.  Imminent death had never been able to get his pulse going as fast as the sight of his wife in a tight wet t-shirt.

“I tried it.  It was inaccurate,” she told him.

“That’s impossible.  You’re just using it wrong,” he retorted.  And that was when the glacier started to fall on their heads.

Their protective cage vibrated like a drum with multiple impacts.  It could withstand the weight of several tons of ice and snow, but it wouldn’t last long in their current situation.  Snow and ice-melt sifted and dripped through the gaps in the cage and onto his bare head and face with shocking frigidity in the heat. The blue glow from the dilithium reservoir indicator on the control panel in front of him showed roughly eighty percent full.  It would have to do. Time to get the hell outta Dodge.  He groped for his communicator.   Sudden claustrophobic darkness surrounded them as the avalanche finally filled the last of the gaps in the cage and started to sift through in mini-snow flurries. T’Pol, outwardly calm, was still keeping the drill on track.  He could sense a nugget of fear within her, kept firmly in check.  It already felt like he couldn’t breathe, which made no sense.  Running out of air was the least of their worries.  The cage wouldn’t hold together that long.  There was no time to be afraid. 

“Hess!  Energize!”


 

 

 “Then how the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with gleeee, ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeerrrr, you’ll go down in his-to-ryyy!!!’ ” 

The group of five carolers from Astrocartography finished with a flourish and passed to the next table.

“So, this Rudolph is a religious figure?  Perhaps a primitive winter god of the hunt?” Phlox asked curiously.  Liz smiled at her husband’s attempts to understand the incomprehensible and shook her head.

“No.  He was a marketing gimmick invented for a department store in the early twentieth century, but I love the story anyway.”

“Ah.” Phlox’s smile was the one he gave her when he had no idea what she was talking about but was too polite to say so.  She’d just opened her mouth to explain when she felt a tug on her sleeve.  Feezal, who was circling the room like a top after her afternoon nap and a liberal dose of sweets, was practically hyperventilating she was so excited.

“Sanna comin’, Mommy?  Sanna comin’?” she begged.  Liz laughed down at her.

“Soon, baby.  He’s coming soon,” she reassured her. Applause broke out behind her, and she turned in her seat, but instead of gruff old Sergeant McCann in red velvet with fake-fur trim she saw Lieutenant-Commander Hess in full dress uniform walking in the door on the arm of Lieutenant Sharwa in matching finery. The two of them crossed the threshold under the mistletoe amid whistles and shouts of “Kiss her, Sharwa!” and “Lay one on him, Anna!”  Sharwa immediately demonstrated his command of western mores and customs by sweeping his companion into a full-blown movie musical dip kiss. Crewmen and women stood at every table, clapping and cheering for them as if they were conquering heroes. The news of the away mission’s success had made it through the ship before the team had even left decon. As soon as the two of them came up for air, Anna Hess, still flushed, a little disheveled, and smiling broadly, held up a hand for quiet.  The clapping trailed away to respectful silence.

“Thanks, everyone. The Commanders wanted me to convey their regrets.  They’re spending the evening getting some rest so they can start working on a new dilithium matrix first thing in the morning, but they wanted me to wish you all a very merry Christmas!”  That brought about another round of clapping and cheering.  Well-wishers surrounded Hess and Sharwa.  Behind the throng Liz caught sight of a flash of red.  Amanda entered the room alone and unnoticed.  She wouldn’t be unnoticed for long, though.  The dress Liz had loaned her was Phlox’s favorite, one that Liz had outgrown since Feezal.  Bright scarlet knit clung to Amanda’s taut young body like a second skin from the waist up.  With a deep V-shaped neckline that showed her attributes well, it swirled around shapely thighs as she walked.  Liz glanced at Phlox.  He’d noticed Amanda already, and was doing his very best imitation of determined disinterest.  Poor man.  She’d made it crystal clear to him at the beginning of their marriage that she wouldn’t tolerate competition.  He was going to be so confused.

“Look, dear.  Amanda’s finally here,” said Liz innocently.  “It was so nice of her to staff Sickbay until the Commanders were ready to leave decon so that you could make it to the party on time.  Why don’t you go and dance with her to make it up to her?”


 

 

The room was toasty warm.  Trip, completely comfortable dressed in nothing but his regulation blue stretch boxers and a t-shirt, lay across the foot of the king-sized bed he’d built in the first month of his marriage to T’Pol watching her nurse Lorian in the rocking chair.  He’d built that too, come to think of it.  Just being in the same room with them was like being immersed in belongingness.  He was awed by T’Pol’s intense maternal love for their son, a love that amazingly, thankfully, included him through the bond.

“Warm enough?” he asked her.  Her old silk pajamas weren’t much insulation.  She looked up from her serene study of Lorian’s perfection and raised a brow at him.

“I’ve just been treated for heat prostration and dehydration.  I’ve had enough warmth for a while.”  Then she cocked her head at him.  “Why are you not attending the Christmas party?”  Trip shook his head.

“And miss this?  I told Hess to wish ‘em all merry Christmas, but I’d rather spend Christmas with you than at some noisy party.  After today we’ve earned some time alone, don’t you think?”  T’Pol tipped her head in agreement.  In her arms, Lorian suddenly let out a soft infant snore.  His mouth fell slack around her nipple, dribbling milk.  Trip chuckled quietly. 

T’Pol rose slowly from the chair to put a soundly sleeping Lorian into his cradle, then began buttoning her shirt.  Trip rolled quickly on the bed, retrieved a red fabric-wrapped package from inside his pillowcase, and then came up behind her to whisper in her ear.

 “Merry Christmas, darlin’.”

He could feel her amusement and a trace of embarrassment from her in the bond.  He turned her around and tipped her chin up, giving her a quizzical smile.

“I have no Christmas gift for you,” she admitted.  “I intended to find one, and then I became involved with translating the operations manual for the drill and …”

“Unwrap your present, and then you’ll have everything you need give me what I want for Christmas,” Trip murmured suggestively.  T’Pol, radiating curiosity in the bond, took the package from him and untied the ribbon securing the red wrapping.  Inside was silk in an iridescent teal blue.  He’d claimed the very last bit of the quartermaster’s Triaxian silk.  There hadn’t been much left, but the skimpy camisole and tiny shorts hadn’t required much.

“I see now why you turned the thermostat up,” remarked T’Pol dryly.

“Hey, I’m in blue.  I thought you might want to match,” Trip told her, biting his lip to keep from laughing at her expression as she dangled the undersized sleepwear between the thumbs and forefingers of both hands.  Her lips tightened, their corners turned upward just a trace.  Anticipation permeated the bond.

“Thank you, husband.  It is a … thoughtful gift,” said T’Pol carefully.  “Might I inquire … what is it that you want for Christmas?”  Trip grinned and pulled her close.  His lips grazed the tip of one delicately pointed ear.  Then he leaned back to look at her. T’Pol’s eyes were closed, her lips slightly moist and parted.  God, how he loved that expression on her face.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he whispered.  “All I want’s the privilege of taking your gift off of you, of course.  Slowly.” 

Trip laughed softly as he watched her head right to the bathroom to change without another word.


 

 

End

  

 

 

 


Comments:

Cap'n Frances

Lovely story. Since I have a few days off for Christmas, I wanted to read some hoiiday fics. I enjoyed the Christmas party and T'Pol's celebration, but there was a lot more to this story. I especially liked Feezal and the issues of raising a young human-Denobulan child.

Distracted

No sweat, JT.  I can actually see how some of these "all natural" moms who refuse to let sugar or anything non-organic touch their child's lips until they hit junior high might get pretty bent out of shape at the idea of someone else nursing their infant, and a lot of them are in the forefront of the nursing movement.  I personally have never made use of a wet nurse, but if I knew the woman well enough to be sure she wasn't taking in drugs or toxins I wouldn't have had a problem with it.  If my nannies had been capable of nursing my kids in a pinch it sure would have made my life a whole lot easier.  I had to wean my oldest at nine months because my nanny quit and I had to put him in day care. He flat out refused bottles so he went striaight from breast to formula in a cup. The other two I nursed until they were old enough to tell me they didn't want it anymore.  Fortunately, both of my girls were like Feezal, talking in complete sentences by the time they were 2.  ;)

justTrip'n

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised that you portrayed the wetnursing as no big deal. That would be my feeling about it. I just ran up against some very anxious attitudes about breastfeeding here in the states, so I was curious if anyone else had encountered that. I am pleased that breatfeeding is beggining to be seen as a natural, obvious thing to do and that accomodations are made to make things easy for the lactating mothers and hungry babies.  I didn't mean to imply a controversy where none existed.

Distracted

Thank you for the lengthy commentary, Ibekoj.  It always impresses me when someone whose native language is not English makes such an effort to critique my work.  "Bhaiyo" is "Done" or "All Done" in Nepali.  The rest is just "Merry Christmas".  And my intent biologically was a simple ecology consisting of bacteria, lichens, herbivorous animals who ate the lichens and carnivores that ate the herbivores, sort of like the high arctic.  And that would be in the temperate regions, of course.  On a world like this one there would have to be areas where nothing lived but maybe bacteria and slime molds with antifreeze built in to make them mobile.  In other words, not a place you'd want to stay.  I was trying to create a world that was okay to visit at high noon at the equator, but you definitely wouldn't want to live there.  And my intent also was to imply that the mining effort was a one-shot deal since they didn't have the resources to build another drill if this one was destroyed.  Guess I didn't make that clear.

lbekoj

Thank you, Dis, for a carefully crafted and nice done story and thanks to panyasan for this attractive order!
Lieutenant Sharwa is a diverting character. I am glad that you gave him a pair and such considered background.
I assumed that you used Hindi words but I was not able to confirm it via Google translator because of my poor imagination for the reverse engineering (providing Russian or English words for finding the proper translation). I checked also Chinese. Google translator does not provide with Nepali translation, unfortunately. As a result "Bhaiyo" remained the enigma for me.

I love a glimpse of Phlox's family with Liz Cutler's POV and such original and detailed description of Feezal and her unusual physiology and temper. It is interesting whether thy chose such name for their daughter because Phlox missed preeminetly that wife or because she was able to produce an indelible impression on Liz also. I like your idea that Amanda Cole was at first "Liz’s indispensible right hand woman when it came to dealing with Feezal". Though it is sad that she would marry Phlox later only because the rest men were afraid of her.

You created quite unique and vivid world. Though I am not sure whether it is possible to develop the fauna without the herbivorous animals in the food chain or not:
"The planet below them had no plant life but cold-resistant lichen and Xenobiology was still working on whether the indigenous fauna was digestible for humans"

TnT teamwork, bond and relationships are enthralling. My favorite description of it is the next:
"Ordinarily it would have pleased her to be party to his enjoyment, but she was too cold to be pleased. As the thought occurred to her, Trip shot her a worried glance. She sent back wordless apology."
I appreciate that they can combine their feelings, the professional attitude and the needs of their crew and mission. You were able to write it simultaneously interspersing in your tale as the maternity changed T'Pol. Trip is so creative in adding new safety precautions for working with alien equipment in the unfamiliar conditions.
I only have the little doubt about Trip's readiness to sacrifice himself and T'Pol for the sake of the dilithium because as I understand they might repeat their attempt to retrieve the mineral in another time or maybe make the few short sorties.
The last scene with TnT's peculiar reciprocation of presents was perfect.
By the way to nurse a baby you one is just babysitting happened among my familiar family when a mother may not do it herself. And, of course, it was the usual practice among the aristocracy in the old times.

JadziaKathryn

Hmm, Liz's attempt to work out a more Denobulan marriage is interesting. It works here, although one has to hope she really thought everything through. I, too, really enjoyed T'Pol's wondering about men staring at her chest, and her 'irrational' worry about Lorian. This is one of those stories that leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside - just perfect for Christmas!

Linda

This fic was delicious.  What I liked best was the descriptions of the mining.  I got such clear pictures in my mind!  The stoyr was loaded with interesting details like characteristics of mixed species children.  And I liked the idea that Liz would be interested in sharing a husband...to get another wife to share childcare.  I suspect that many times this has been a positive effect of poligamy right here on earth - despite the negative perceptions usually associated with the practice.  Overall, this is an enjoyable and well crafted story.

Mary

Distracted

.This was a nice touch for a Christmas story. Similar to others taking place in the expance, there is a lack of supplies and a make due with attitude. Surprising was Trip's assertion that the dilithium was more important than his or T'Pol's life. A clear indication of thte severity of theieer sistuation. The nursing contoversy did not bother me in the least, it's not a significant enough issue to warrant didscontent. Over all this was a nice warm vignet for this time of year even though we have no snow yet. Always a pleasure to read anything that you write. Merry Christsmas.

Aquarius

I'm glad I finallly got caught up enough to read this addition to the Holiday Fic Exchange!  This was delightful, Dis.  I especially liked the exchange between Trip and T'Pol when they were trying to convince each other to go home.

I didn't think the breast feeding thing was such a big deal; they're in a survival situation, and people are making sacrifices left and right.  When you have babies on board it make more sense to have willing volunteers to either serve as wet nurses or donate to a milk bank, resources that are readily available for the babies, without dipping into other resources that could sustain the adults.

A wonderful read!

Distracted

I must confess that I didn't expect the nursing scene to be controversial.  From a medical standpoint, the main risk of wet nursing is the spread of infections and toxins via breast milk.  I figured that by this time everyone would know enough about everyone else's personal habits to know whether it was safe to trust them not to consume toxins and drugs, and Phlox would know whether a woman had anything contagious.  I wouldn't think baby formula was on the manifest, so breast milk would be much more available than any recipe Chef and Phlox could come up with, presumably made from whatever precious milk stores they had in stock. 

As far as the species specificity of breast milk goes, I figured if humans can drink cow's milk then a half-Vulcan/half-human infant wouldn't really care much whether his milk was of Human or Vulcan origin... if he got hungry enough.  :D

Alelou

LOL.  I figured you just wanted the more natural attraction of Cutler and Phlox to play out and were having a little fun with the canon freaks in the audience.  I think this could be canon too, although it does make you wonder why nobody mentioned Liz when they were talking about Phlox and Amanda's progeny.  Maybe Liz decides polygamy is not all it's cracked up to be and they have their first domestic scandal on board, which later generations decided it's best not to talk about...  The breastfeeding thing gave me a little pause too, but mostly because I was wondering what a half-Vulcan baby would make of whole-human milk.  Wet-nursing makes a great deal of sense on a ship with a dwindling food supply.

Distracted

And you're welcome, panyasan.  You're right about the language being Nepali, although using the "respectful form" was purely chance.  It's what the online translation program spit out, so it's what I used.  I'm glad it came out right.  I chose Nepali because Sharwa is Sherpa, a member of the same minority Nepalese community as the guides to the mountaineers who first climbed Mount Everest.  A fitting person to guide our own intrepid explorers, I thought.

Distracted

Heh.  JT is right.  I just checked the transcript of E2. I doesn't mention Liz Cutler.  You've added to canon in my head, JT. It wasn't canon that I liked, so I did my best to fix it, but the point is that I really thought it was canon.  Good job.  ;)

panyasan

Thank you so much, Distracted for this Christmas present. I could feel the cold, see the snow and surroudings and feel the tension of this mission. I really like the interaction between Trip and T'Pol. Funny that you mentioned breast feeding and how it makes you feel, I think we "talked" about breast feeding (I just stopped after 2,5 years) a while back on one of the threads. Your writing how a Denubulean-Human child would be was very imaginative. I really liked Sharwa, having a low ranking character was one of my wishes and you made him interesting and capable of doing his job. I also like you choose a person from a smaller Asian country like Nepal. I got the impression you did a bit of research on the language of Sharwa, you are using the respectful form in his adressing to his higher ranking officers. BTW, my guess the language you used is Nepali. Very well done. I loved the ending with returning theme of blue. So thank you again!:)

Dinah

This story is proof that a "make-do" holiday can sometimes be the most memorable.  It gives us an interesting peek at the some of the privations the crew must have faced when they were thrown back in time.  It was also lovely to see a very content Trip and T'Pol with their baby.  Thank you for a lovely Christmas present.

justTrip'n

It is canon that Phlox was married to Amanda in the E2 universe. That he was also married to Liz Cutler was something I made up off the top of my head so that Phlox would have something shocking to announce to Trip at the end of Forwards or Backwards. I'm pretty sure . . .

Still, I am happy to have confused so many people. :) If that has happened. ????

I'm glad you had a special needs child in the story. The most edgey thing from my point of view was that Liz is nursing T'Pol's child. That was very common among the Hmong people in Thailand: to nurse a baby you one is just babysitting. To keep it from crying, of course. Then after returning to the US, there was a famous case in Pittsburgh I think of a babysitter being charged with child abuse for nursing a baby she was babysitting. (She was just trying to keep it from crying.) Then to my horror the LeLeache league came out saying that the babysitter had made a grave mistake. But I digress . . . .

Well, interesting as always! Thank you.

 

 

Distracted

The Phlox/Cutler/Amanda thing always bugged me.  Why would two such independent and strong-minded women choose to engage in polygamy on a ship full of eligible bachelors?  And Phlox really didn't seem like Amanda's type.  So I started with Liz's canon attraction to Phlox and ran with it.  I hope I didn't offend. 

Nobody's trying to guess the foreign language I used.  There are clues in the story.  You don't have to actually speak the language to figure it out.

Asso

As always, a delicious reading.

bluetiger

Wonderful, an E2 Christmas story is quite a treat. Trip and T'Pol working together like that is a real joy and the business about all the men mesmerized by her over size breasts was hilarious.

Liz Cutler is always a favorite and I guess sleep deprivation will drive anyone to extremes.

I think that was the perfect way for our couple to spend Christmas. A great read (even if we weren't all snowed in):D

Honeybee

Bravo. Perfect reading for when you are snowed in on Saturday night! And I love how you resolved the Phlox/Cutler Phlox/Amanda paradox of the E2 universe. Of course, it makes perfect sense! 

Alelou

Ah, that was fun.  And rather daring, too, with good ol' Liz scheming to make sure this story stays in canon!  LOL.

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