Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Hoshi’s Box: The Final Straw

Hoshi’s Box: The Final Straw

by Mara

Summary: Hoshi’s not in a very good mood, and a box found at her station doesn’t bode well.

NOTES: This story is a response to Taryn’s Writer’s Block Party Challenge:
“Hoshi finds a small box in her chair at the communications station. Show me
what is in the box, her reaction to it, and what it all means.” Taryn also wrote
the first line. Thanks to Captain Average for the beta.

* * * * *

Hoshi pulled her chair out, not wanting to be on the bridge at all today. After
three ship-wide crises in four days, a spur-of-the-moment translation while
weapons were drawn, not to mention the tail end of a nasty head cold, Hoshi was
in no mood for the scutwork that had been building up.

This was a mood not improved in the slightest by the sight that met her eyes:
not the seat of her chair, waiting to be warmed, but the seat *plus* a box.

She looked around, but her gamma shift counterpart had left the bridge somewhat
early to work on some communications equipment in engineering.

T’Pol glanced up from her station. “Is there something wrong, Ensign?”

Lifting the box off the chair gingerly, Hoshi inspected it, rather expecting it
to explode or melt or otherwise embarrass her. On the other hand, Travis wasn’t
around to witness it, so it probably wasn’t one of his jokes.

“Did you see who put this here?” Hoshi asked, staring at the undecorated plastic
box. It was just an ordinary storage box, the sort of thing extra bits of
equipment might be stored in.

“No. It was not placed there while I was on the bridge.” T’Pol paused. “Perhaps
you should open it?”

Hoshi sighed. “You’re right.” She sank down into her seat and regarded the box
unhappily for another few seconds before finally lifting its lid.

Her spirits fell further when she saw several rows of data chips, brightly
colored silicon, each capable of holding several terabytes of data.

Wordlessly, she tilted the box so T’Pol could see it, but the science officer
shook her head slightly and returned to her work.

Hoshi stared in dismay at the chips. If they hadn’t come from T’Pol, the only
other person likely to drop off work at her console so casually was the Captain.

This was probably another one of his morale-raising assignments, guaranteed to
make her life miserable. Maybe these contained everyone’s mail home and she was
supposed to put together a master list of everyone’s favorite foods.

Or perhaps the Captain, with his vast belief in her abilities, had come up with
a few dozen new languages she could decipher in her spare time. As if updating
the UT, and trying to keep all the information they’d gathered so far, in order
wasn’t enough work for a dozen linguists. Maybe while she was at it she could
end the Vulcan-Andorian conflict as well.

The chips rattled in their box as she tapped her fingers rapidly against the
side rapidly, and she frowned down at them–unreasonably annoyed by the noise.
Her mood darkened even further as the translucent chips gleamed offensively up
at her.

It was just the final straw, Hoshi decided, slamming the lid back on to close
off the sight. The final straw that broke the comm officer’s back, that’s what
it was. Whatever this extra work was, it could just wait until she was finished
with the dozens of other assignments waiting for her. She didn’t care if Admiral
Forrest himself wanted it done, it could just wait.

Hoshi glanced over at the door to the Captain’s ready room. It was time to go
tell the Captain so in person. He’d been taking advantage of her willingness to
do the impossible for long enough.

She stood up, took a deep bracing breath and tucked the box under her arm, just
as the turbolift doors opened and let Trip out onto the bridge.

“Mornin’, Sub-commander. Mornin’, Hoshi,” he said. His eyes dropped immediately
to the box Hoshi held, and his face lit up with a broad grin. “Hey, is that my
box of data chips?”

Stopped in her tracks, Hoshi stared at Trip. “What?” she managed, her voice,
sounding a bit strained even to her ears. Had *Trip* had the temerity to leave
her an assignment? If so, she was going to-

Unaware of her internal monologue, Trip continued. “Empty data chips? I had a
box in my hands not half an hour ago when I was up here making some adjustments
to a few stations, and boom, they were gone. So, I figured I left them here
somewhere.”

Hoshi felt her jaw start to drop and she firmly closed it, holding the box out
to him. “I suppose they’re empty. I didn’t actually check them.”

Taking the box, Trip gave her an odd look. “Well, that must be them. So, have
you had a chance to use your console yet this shift? I think this latest upgrade
Hess and I came up with will really make a difference in its performance.”

She managed a weak smile. “No, not yet, but I’ll just sit down and give it a go
now.” Her face was starting to heat up, and she quickly turned to sit back down
at her station and hit a few buttons. She was sure that Trip and T’Pol were
exchanging curious glances behind her back, as their confusion was practically
audible, but she was not about to explain her mistake.

“Well,” Trip said, “I’ll just be heading back to engineering now. Thanks for
finding my chips.”

“Thank you for the upgrades, Commander. I’ll let you know.” She kept her head
down, waiting for the first flush of embarrassment to recede. Oh my god, she
thought, I nearly bawled out the Captain over a box of empty data chips. This is
nearly as bad as the time I accused Sub-commander T’Pol of trying to sabotage
me. At least Trip got here in time to stop me.

Hoshi rubbed her eyes, vowing to get some additional sleep, That’s it, she said
firmly to herself, no more jumping to conclusions without better data. And in
the future, perhaps she would look on strange boxes as an opportunity rather
than a challenge.

Or maybe not.

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