Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Help Unasked For

Help Unasked For

by Mara

Summary: A revised version of the scene between Trip and T’Pol at the end of the third season premiere, “The Xindi.”

NOTES: This story is the result of yelling at the television, “You idiots, *I*
could write a better scene!” You see, the universe yelled back, “Prove it!”
Those of you who read my drabbles might recognize a few sentences of this,
cannibalized from my drabble of the same name. Thanks to various folks for
encouraging me to write this, especially Stexgirl2000 🙂

* * * * *

When the comm in her quarters chimed, T’Pol wondered if the humans were having a
detrimental effect on her–she experienced a momentary desire to ignore the
sound. Dutiful as always, however, she answered the summons.

When she heard Phlox’s voice, she schooled herself into her usual emotionless
calm, although his desire to push her to help Commander Tucker greatly strained
that calm.

“He’s on the way to your quarters,” Phlox said, voice sounding rather giddy. “He
believes that I have given him a sedative, but it is only a placebo.”

“Understood.” T’Pol clicked the button to turn off the comm system, and
considered her situation. It was unclear exactly how she had been maneuvered
into this, but the reality was the expectation that she would train the most
emotional and fractious member of the Enterprise crew in Vulcan meditation
techniques.

Her lips pursed slightly as she imagined the restrained disbelief this idea
would engender back on Vulcan. Or the unrestrained amusement it would cause on
Earth, for that matter.

A quick glance around her quarters showed that she was prepared for meditation,
work put away, candles and pillow in place. Absently, she adjusted the loose,
comfortable robes she wore, glad she had already donned them before Phlox’s
call; it would be most inappropriate for her to try to teach a relaxation
technique while wearing her bedclothes.

The door chimed and T’Pol closed her eyes briefly. But it would be illogical
cowardice to refuse to continue once she’d agreed, so she allowed Tucker to
enter her quarters.

He looked nearly as uncomfortable as she felt, standing just inside the doorway
in his off-duty clothing, fumbling the padds that Phlox had sent him with as a
ruse. “Here, the doc said you needed these.”

“Thank you.” She took them and placed them on her desk without even a glance,
disliking subterfuge nearly as much as Phlox enjoyed it. In fact, if the doctor
had one flaw, it was his delight in minor manipulations of those around him.

Tucker shifted his weight from leg to leg, seeming uncertain what to do with his
hands, first putting them in his pockets, then clasping them behind his back.
“Well, I’ll just, uh, Phlox gave me this sedative and–”

She spoke almost on impulse. “There was no sedative. Phlox wished you to come
here this evening.”

His eyes widened. “Why, that interfering old–”

“Commander.” She didn’t raise her voice, but it worked and Tucker fell silent.
“The doctor is concerned about your continued inability to sleep and was
attempting to help you. And I wish you to stay.”

“Stay?” Tucker actually took a half step backward, nearly running into the door.

“I was about to begin my meditation for this evening. It might be beneficial for
you to join me.”

Tucker’s jaw dropped and he shifted his stance to something more adversarial. “I
don’t want any damn lessons on suppressing my emotions,” he snarled, turning to
open the door.

T’Pol stopped him with a hand over the buttons. “I was not suggesting that.
Although it might make the atmosphere more…pleasant for me, it would not be
appropriate for you.”

He paused before turning to look at her, likely trying to rein in his temper.
“Then what’re you talking about?”

“I wish to help you find constructive ways to express those emotions. But I can
see I was mistaken–you do not wish my assistance.”

T’Pol allowed her expression to look ever so slightly crestfallen.

Tucker grimaced. “It’s not…it’s just…”

T’Pol waited, making an attempt at downcast.

“Fine.” He rubbed his upper arms, avoiding her eyes. “What do I do?”

She studied him for a moment, considering again why she had pursued this–
undoubtedly foolhardy–course of action. She noted the dark circles under
Tucker’s eyes and the tension that had seemingly not left his shoulders since
news of the Xindi attack on Earth had reached Enterprise.

“Please have a seat,” she said, nodding at the brown cushion on which she
usually sat. He gave her an odd look, which she ignored, reaching behind her
desk to retrieve the spare cushion, worn and red and not kept for sentimental
reasons. No, not at all, although it had been a gift from her mother many years
ago. Its presence was purely utilitarian, of course.

Tucker plopped awkwardly down on the cushion, propping his elbows on his knees,
and T’Pol tried not to sigh. She sank onto her cushion, legs folded neatly in
front of her, forearms resting on her knees, and waited for him to follow suit.
When he did, she nodded and began to prepare.

Lighting the candles, T’Pol found she was watching Tucker. He was often easy to
read even when he tried to hide his emotions–at this moment, even the youngest
Vulcan child with no exposure to humans could guess his thoughts and feelings.

He could barely suppress the sneer at her actions, but simultaneously looked
prepared for flight if she made any unexpected moves. Candles lit, she turned
the lights in the room to low and looked directly at Tucker. He was nervous,
certainly, unsure what she might ask him to do, and too exhausted to think very
clearly.

She frowned slightly at this realization. Phlox might very well have had a
point. The commander was obviously stretched to the limit of his mental
resources.

“The purpose of meditation is not,” she said quietly, “to suppress emotions,
although that is what Vulcans use it for. Its purpose is to clear the mind and
place your thoughts in the proper context.”

Tucker just looked confused.

“Never mind. Perhaps we will begin with a simple relaxation exercise. That may
be all you need. Now close your eyes.”

He obediently closed them, but they opened again almost immediately. “Why’re you
doing this?”

“Doing what, Commander?”

“Trying to help me. I mean, you don’t even like me.” The tone was plaintive, as
if he was unused to not being liked. And this might have been true, as it seemed
that most of the crew reacted favorably to his informal, emotional style.

“My likes or dislikes are irrelevant,” T’Pol said. “If a member of the crew is
in need of assistance or training, it is my obligation to help.”

This seemed to be the wrong answer, as Tucker started to stand up. “Never mind,
I don’t think this is gonna work.”

“That seems premature, as you have not even tried it yet.”

“It’s just that–”

“Ambassador Soval would agree with you, however.”

Kneeling on the cushion, Tucker stopped and stared at her. “What?”

“The Ambassador would agree that Vulcan meditation techniques will not help you.
In fact, I am quite certain he would consider this a waste of my time. Humans,
in his view, are incapable of the mental dedication and concentration necessary
to master even the most elementary methods of meditation.”

Tucker blinked, seeming about to speak, then choked a bit and dropped back onto
his cushion, nearly upsetting the nearest candle. His face changed so rapidly,
T’Pol was unable to read his emotions clearly. She made a mental note to consult
further with Ensign Sato on the matter of body language and nonverbal
expression.

Tucker continued to stare at her, and unperturbed, she looked back.

“So, you figure I’ll give this meditation thing a try just to spite Soval?”

The thought had crossed her mind, but in truth, she was pleased he had seen
through that gambit. She inclined her head slightly. “Perhaps. However, I
believe that you should try it because your doctor has suggested it might help.”

“So you think Soval is wrong.” His gaze pinned her, although she now wished to
look away.

“I…am here,” she said. Much went unsaid: alienating Soval, resigning her
commission, perhaps exiling herself from her people.

“Yeah, you’re here.” Tucker sighed, a gust of air that caused the flames to
flicker and dance. Shaking his head, a small grin crossed his face and some of
the tension seemed to leave his shoulders. “I guess the least I can do is try.”

–end–

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