The Alien

By EntAllat

Rating: G

Genres:

Keywords:

This story has been read by 721 people.
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Author's e-mail: entallat@gmail.com
Archive: FanFiction.net, Delphic Expanse, Warp5, TriS. Ask for anywhere else please.
Category: TnT
Pairing: Trip and T'Pol
Summary: T'Pol offers insight on an alien species to her fellow Vulcans.

Disclaimer: Star Trek and Enterprise (the universe, the characters, and all related images and logos) are copyrighted by Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred. No money was made from the writing of this fanfiction.

Author's note: This is unabashedly TnT, but it was inspired by an interesting discussion on another forum about T'Pol's "alien-ness". I decided that something needed to be told from T'Pol's point of view.

The style of the story began as an experiment in form. I was attempting to create a very short story framed with the names, "T'Pol" and "Trip" at the beginning and end, but nowhere else. The short story got a little longer than I expected, so I hope the fact that I stubbornly stuck with not using names in the body doesn't start to feel annoying.

This story takes place some unspecified time after the series. Spoilers for the episode Kir'shara.


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"T'Pol?"

The question was muffled, as if the speaker's voice was obstructed by something. No sense of distress or urgency was apparent in the query but, nevertheless, she immediately closed her book and quickly rose from her seated position in the cooling shade of a d'mallu tree.

Vulcan's sister planet, T'Kut, was just a sliver in the sky. The system's star had only barely begun to reach its daytime zenith so the heat was still bearable but, she thought with some concern, the ambient temperature would soon be approaching dangerous for off-worlders who were exposed for too long. A quick scan of the area revealed nothing but the village in the distance, the path they'd walked through the neighborhood preserve of kylin'the and adun - two types of precious water-bearing cactus - and two Vulcan couples finishing a meal under the shade of a rock ledge.

He was nowhere to be seen.

For a moment her chest felt tight and her breath stopped, and for the third time in as many days, she felt a sense of urgency about learning to communicate via the bond, as the texts she'd been consulting claimed was possible. Possible ... when the two were both Vulcan.

She took a deep, calming breath to bring order to her mind and body once again then glanced back at the others. It would be inappropriate to show emotional unease in the presence of their afternoon guests so she considered her initial observation dispassionately: As if the speaker was obstructed by something.

A thought came to her and she arched an eyebrow as she stepped past the d'mallu to the edge of the walking path. From this vantage point she could see down a gently sloping cliff that ended in a shallow ravine below.  As expected, he stood at the ravine's bottom, a smear of dust and sand on the seat of his clothing. She let her eyes linger on the clinging sand for a moment but quickly lifted her brown eyes to meet his blue ones when he turned around.

"Are you hurt?" She kept her voice as neutral as possible.

"Nah, I'm fine," he smiled.  "I climbed down here deliberately," he added quickly. "I just realized ... remembered ... that I'm not on familiar ground and things might not be what they seem." He nodded right in front of him, to a tangle of gespar vines and a small furred creature that appeared to be trapped in it.  "Peter Cottontail here isn't goin' to turn out to be a Killer Rabbit if I help it out, is it?"
 
Peter Cottontail? Killer Rabbit? As she rapidly searched her memory for clues to his usual metaphoric way of communicating she was nearly startled by a rustle of fabric, a cloud of dust and long shadows that announced the arrival of the other couples at the edge of the cliff. She'd already forgotten that they were nearby.

Ignoring their guests for the moment, she shifted her position to get a better look where her mate was pointing. "It's a hartu. Much like an Terran rodent," she responded. "It is harmless." He only breathed deeply and nodded in reply, obviously aware that he now had an audience. She watched him move forward, seemingly mindful of any small teeth as, with one hand on the animal's neck, he began carefully untangling the vine from around its hind legs.

For the next several minutes there was nothing but the sound of the hot wind through the crevices of the rock face, the faint rustle of the fronds of the d'mallu or the flapping of fabric. As the silence stretched on she fought an irrational urge to fill it with conversation. Obviously her considerable time spent among aliens, particularly the beings of Earth, had acculturated her to different habits. It was to be expected. What was unexpected was the slight ... wistfulness? nostalgia? ... she felt at the absence of that cultural conversational expectation.

Well, perhaps not a complete absence of it. Her mate had certainly had tried to engage their companions in idle conversation all day, to varying degrees of success, frustration and perplexed responses on both sides.

She glanced to her right to study their companions. The youth and his young bride were both former students of her mother. They had expressed their communal empathy from afar after the death of T'Les, and correspondence had continued sporadically over the ensuing months. The elder male was a retired colleague from her own days with the Ministry of Security and the older female was his wife of many years, and an artist. She had very nearly lost touch with them over the years of service with Enterprise but, as with the two young people, they had sought her out in to grieve with her in the traditional fashion and communication was reestablished. Perhaps out of curiosity.

Curiosity. Again she fought to suppress an irrational emotion, this time a slight feeling of irritation. It was obvious to her that the others were perplexed by the Human's behavior but, in traditional Vulcan fashion, they chose only to observe and judge in silence. Her mother's voice filled her mind in self-reproach. "Your emotions were always too close to the surface." But curiosity wasn't an emotion, was it? Surely it was not something Surak would have deemed necessary to repress?

Idle conversation. Curious, if sometimes ignorant, questions. Perhaps that was why the Humans of Earth had come so far so quickly. Or, she thought with yet another stirring of unease, perhaps Human behavior was simply the product of their significantly shorter life-spans. Her gaze returned to the individual in the ravine, and her mind gently touched the edges of the psychic bond that reassured her this particular Human still lived.

Her mate had freed the small creature and was stroking it gently, even as he kept a firm grip on it, fingers out of reach of tiny teeth. He looked the hartu in the eyes once and smiled before setting it down on the sand and letting go. With a series of sharp squeaks it quickly burrowed under the rock face, tossing sand and pebbles behind it as it fled. The creature's hasty retreat provoked a delighted grin and a "You're welcome, little fella," from the Human. 

Another glance at their companions confirmed that the exchange had not escaped their notice either. It was the youngest female of the group who finally broke the silence. "I thought Humans were not telepathic."

"They are not," the eldest male replied, cultural inhibitions obviously surmounted via the initial inquiry.

"But he looked at the creature as if he were communicating with it. And then he spoke with it."

She decided to offer some clarity to the clearly perplexed group. "Humans often ascribe sentience and emotions to the other creatures of their planet despite their inability to telepathically confirm a creature's capacity for such," she explained. "They extend that tendency to that which they encounter elsewhere."

"But if they cannot sense another's state of being..." the youngest male left the question unfinished.

It was something that had perplexed her as well, her first few months in San Francisco. "Humans rely on their physical senses of touch, taste, smell, and on auditory and visual cues rather than touch telepathy. They are considerably better than we are at 'reading' other species via a complex way of integrating these senses in their subconscious," she said.
The older female nodded slightly, adding in a soft and thoughtful tone, "The Human at the Advisory Center always seemed to know when I felt amused, despite my attempts to control and conceal it. It was somewhat ... unsettling."

She nodded. At times, it was. "Humans are not typically telepathic, but their integration of these senses into their subconscious can mimic telepathic abilities - from our perspective, at least. Intuition and empathy is a particularly strong in many Humans."

While they were speaking, the source of their curiosity had begun his climb back up the sloping side of the ravine, using the vines and rocks as handholds. She was mildly surprised when, as he neared the top, the two males reached out to help lift him the rest of the way.

He straightened up and nodded a silent thank you, obviously winded. Only after the two couples left to retrieve their belongings from their picnic site did he relax his shoulders and put his hands   on his knees to catch his breath as his body sought to compensate for the exertion in an atmosphere thinner than the environment from which he came. Once again she contemplated an extended vacation elsewhere - somewhere in an oxygen rich environment.

She gave him a gentle look before starting up the path once again. "There are times when I am reminded that I married an alien."

Moments later she stopped, realizing he hadn't followed.

He still stood at the edge of the cliff, his face wearing the expression that Humans described as bemused. "I ... I never really thought of myself as the ... you know ... alien."

When she arched her eyebrow he made that small sound, a sort of abrupt not-quite-laugh, that she'd come to understand indicated sudden insight tinged with either amusement or embarrassment. Or, she thought as an unexpected memory surfaced, in the case of when she'd told him that Corporal Cole had touched his behind, possibly both.

"But 'round here, I guess I am," he continued as he joined her on the walking path. Stopping next to her, he glanced up and the sky and grinned. "From outer space, no less."

"Indeed."

He turned that warm expression on her and, after a mere moment's hesitation, she gave in to the one illogical urge that had apparently stayed near the surface of her consciousness since spotting him at the bottom of the ravine: she reached out and leisurely wiped off the smear of dust and sand that still covered the seat of his clothing.

After a minute, his cough interrupted her thoughts and she lifted her eyes to meet his amused and slightly suggestive expression. "Enjoyin' yourself?" he asked.

She simply arched an eyebrow and finished her task, then straightened up and considered several possible responses, including the usual argumentative ones. As his expression slowly changed from amused to puzzled she finally settled on the most appropriate one.

"Immensely."

She paused briefly to take in the look on his face before calmly adding, "Let's go home, Trip."

 


Comments:

Weeble

Realize I am late to the party, but..

 

I really enjoyed it. I find myself drawn to "A day in the life" fics. It helps me with some of what i am doing. Thought it a cute scene where Trip does not wish to reveal how exhausted he is.

 

Weeble

aka Steelchaser

ENTAllat

Thank you all for your thoughtful and kind comments. I'm glad you liked this piece.

Warpgirl: I'm glad it did get clearer. I had to re-write that section a few times to make sure the reader didn't forget they were there in the first place. 

Asso: Thank you. I'm glad you found it interesting.

Panyasan: Me too! :) The descriptions of this particular place on Vulcan were inspired by a couple National Geographic photos (those don't ask me which, I don't think I could find them again). Those and and one from Belize have inspired another short one I'm working on now.

Snorpenbass: I like that example! And thank you, that's quite a compliment re the good ones.

Distracted: I think T'Pol liked that part too. ;-) And yeah, it seemed to me that Star Trek in general made that a special trait of Humans, since Vulcans, Klingons etc. were always struck by it. It seems to me to be a big part of Trip's personality too.

Cogito: Oh good! I've got another longer fic in the works that has the sort of same underlying assumption and tone, but from yet another POV.

Mary: Thanks! I've known people who were so insightful about others that they seemed telepathic. :)

Silverbullet: Thank you!

 

 

Silverbullet

Interesting take on Trip being an Alien on Vulcan. Never thought of it. Good tale.

SB

Mary

This was a delightful vignet into Vulcan life. I loved T'Pol's explanation that humans are not telepathic but can seem so by way of  their senses and emotions integrating with subconscious  thought. Trip's interaction with Peter rabbit is classic Trip talking to it, but tempered with T'Pol and experience into asking if it dangerous before rescuing it. Sweet and fun to read.

Cogito

I liked the underlying assumption that they were together, and I enjoyed seeing them being together and getting on with daily life. And I enjoyed seeing Trip's behaviour from the Vulcan perspective, and how perplexing that must have seemed. Most of all I enjoyed the image of Trip talking to a small furry and obviously non-sentient animal, and leaving the vulcans absolutely baffled. You're certain humans aren't telepathic? Amusing, heart warming, insightful, and fun. Good job!

Distracted

I adore this, and didn't find the lack of names in the body of the story annoying at all. I love how the Vulcans found Trip's compassion for the animal difficult to comprehend. It's wonderful how you showcase the idea that our compassion for the suffering of other beings is an intrinsic part of being human, and the butt-dusting was pretty nice, too.  :p

Snorpenbass

*raises eyebrow*

(Spock) "Fascinating." (/Spock)

 

It's something I always found amusing in those who would refer to "non-human/human" stories as some kind of wish fulfillment. While some are (a lot of manga and anime, f'rex), the truly good ones often point out that everyone's an alien from the point of view of what we'd call one. The little bit with the Vulcan woman who found our human way of reading body language and mannerisms a bit creepy was a very nice touch (amusingly, I'm reminded of an old Teen Titans comic issue (the orginal, nto the cartoons)  where a family member of the character Starfire mentions that her human lover Nightwing is a bit of a cold fish compared to their species who are a lot less inhibited about their emotions than us homo sapiens sapiens).

 

...or, putting it shortly; very nice. Me like. ;)

panyasan

I really liked the ending. I can see T'Pol "enjoying" herself while she is cleaning up Trip. It was a great, tender in-joke moment between two people who know each other well. Your descriptions of Vulcan made me be there and T'Pols observations of Trip being alien were great and also very Vulcan. Thank you.

Asso

Interesting.

WarpGirl

This was a very interesting story. I tended to get confused as to how many guests TnT were picnicking with, but it got clearer toward the end. I loved the premise that while we tend to think of T'Pol as an alien, we sometimes forget that Trip is an alien too! This story brought that out wonderfully. I liked T'Pol's insight about humans and how even she still gets uncomfortable with their perceptiveness. It was a wonderful read thank you.

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