Character: T'Pol and Sarek (Enterprise and Reboot 'verse)
Rating: G? Gen, anyway.
Summary: T'Pol is neither on Vulcan, nor on Earth, when Nero strikes. When she receives the news, she is impelled to act, perhaps without logic, because she knows something unusual.
A/N: So, conceptually I've been mulling this for a while (largely because Chris Hemsworth and Connor Trineer look oddly alike in certain motions, at least to me), but I've had a hell of a time making the pieces fit neatly. I hope the rough edges don't show too badly; I'm pretending it's still the 27th for the awesome ladies ficathon. Canonically I've assumed that it's at least sort of emotionally plausible, if a little sticky, for T'Pol and Trip Tucker to have made efforts to resume their relationship after it came apart, and that they might have become reinvolved without it quite becoming common knowledge or showing up on my TV. (Plus, I'm pretty willing to believe it, so I'm okay with some hand-wave, here)
The flash of light announcing an incoming message had gone ignored already for several minutes while T'Pol completed her afternoon meditation, but she didn't hurry to it; at her age, there were very few things which seemed urgent, and certainly the brewing of a cup of tea took precedence. Once she had her mug firmly in hand, the first sip warming her tongue, she sat at her desk and opened the message.
Because she was Vulcan, she did nothing so dramatic as drop the cup, although she did first grip it more tightly and then set it down in order to concentrate on the images and witness accounts before her.
Vulcan, gone. Her surface and her moons and the very space in which she had fallen endlessly toward her system's gravitational center, ruptured and broken. Her people scattered. Her institutions shattered. Her history now only a story with no physical locus--no soil and no ancient sculptures to touch and no hot desert wind to hear carving the sand outside.
Ten thousand survivors remained (it was a first rough approximation; she could not fault the reporter for not determining the number with greater precision, and indeed, she counted it likely that data from spacegoing vessels and satellites might yet be incomplete), with no expectation that any great number more might be rescued from the rubble of the now-ceased reaction.
She realized with a start that her attention had wandered, that she was considering the methodology and necessity of a complete census, and she temporarily stopped the message, picking up her cup for another fortifying sip before restarting it from, as her human colleagues might once have said, the top.
The images were no less shocking on a second viewing, and this time she kept her attention firmly fixed on the data, on the reported estimates, on the preceding and subsequent events, on the known casualties among leaders and diplomats.
At a pause in the stream of information, she stopped the playback and recorded a brief message to Jentok; she would not be joining his family for supper, and while she was aware he might very well have drawn this conclusion on his own upon a perusal of the day's news, she had come to consider Jiaha as something between a daughter and a friend, and she did not want to worry them, should he not.
One thing in particular, apart from the obvious, had caught her attention as she viewed the reports, and despite that her aging hands were frailer than they once had been, despite that she was not, in fact, well-suited to most of the many tasks that must await the Vulcan people (there was no list in the report, but logic dictated that locating a suitable colony world and commencing the business of building must come soon), she knew there was something that only she could do, and it seemed clear where she should go.
She listened to the rest of the news in bits as she arranged her itinerary and folded garments for travel, and then saw to the details of suspending services--bi-weekly grocery deliveries and the hour she spent each Monday with the woman she allowed to visit her home and assist her in larger chores (again, in order that Jentok and Jiaha should not worry; she suspected they knew she was humoring them), and then, one hour and forty minutes after rising from meditation, T'Pol stepped out her front door to the waiting groundcar, and left for the spaceport.
It wasn't a long ride, but the driver was inclined to chat and did not, evidently, have any great familiarity with the general Vulcan distaste for small talk; T'Pol allowed him to speak and murmured polite noncommittal words as needed. She would have time to compose herself once the shuttle was underway, she thought, and in a way, the ceaseless jabber soothed her.
Finally, the man dropped her off with a cheerful salute, and despite the bustle of the spaceport itself, T'Pol felt chilly and alone. It was quite illogical, of course; there were people everywhere: children and their parents, Starfleet personnel on leave, civilians traveling on business. She passed her identification over the sensor and moved toward the private cabin she had reserved, walking quickly. She was not so very old as to be brittle-boned or have difficulty with her balance, but still, she felt the increase of respiration and pulse and she moved, and the gentle ache in the shoulder bearing the weight of her bag despite her rather spare packing. She resolved to review her schedule of physical activity once the situation had settled some, and opened the door of her cabin.
It took only minutes to stow her luggage and review the safety and escape protocols of the vessel, and she thought of the young face in the news reports, the record from Enterprise's databanks. Minutes, Vulcan had had. Minutes, like those she had just spent settling herself for a journey.
The notion of anyone trying--failing, but trying--to save an entire planet in that time was unsetting, and she sat down on the long bench and tried to imagine the young man attempting to prioritize the task.
As the shuttle left the planet's surface and the artificial gravity shifted her mass slightly, T'Pol brought up her legs to cross them before her, and closed her eyes.
It had been decades, of course. A century almost exactly since Elizabeth, and nearly as long since they'd talked about 'trying again.' It had been a strange thing to discuss, initially, since they hadn't 'tried' in the first place, and since their relationship had seemed so unsettled and complicated before her marriage and then after his transfer. Unsettled to her, at least; as a telepath she had been clearly aware that Trip--a part of her resisted the nickname still, but he had preferred it-- didn't think it was extraordinarily more complicated than any human relationship, only more frustrating, a topic to which she had returned many times in meditation in the intervening years.
Trying again, when it was clear they meant to try to make not only their relationship, but a family, work had meant involving doctors because no matter what Phlox said, it would not be so simple as ordinary same-species procreation. It had meant committing in ways that were unlike the traditions T'Pol knew--on reflection, she had eventually concluded they were not so different in meaning, but she had been young, and foreign things had still smelled strange and looked wrong then.
Not that they didn't smell strange now sometimes, but her frame of reference was broader now, and the edges of wrongness had smoothed and softened; she supposed she had been arrogant. Or, she had been correct, but Trip's death had changed her perspective and maybe fractured her logic, at least for a time.
There had certainly been no reason to find comfort in the notion that a part of him would live on, and yet, she had. Not in a child of hers; she was unprepared to continue that path alone, but she'd found herself curiously and illogically unwilling to simply dispose of the stored…genetic material from which they might have proceeded. And there had been no one else upon whom she could place the weight of his effects. So, she'd anonymously donated it for someone who might have a use for it. It was irrational and plainly silly; semen was hardly a rare commodity, especially given the rate and variety of human copulation behaviors. She'd had no idea whether it would ever be used.
Much later, she'd found it had; the face all over the news twenty-five years ago had so resembled Trip's she'd devised a means of acquiring a sample for comparative analysis. She'd never traded on her long-standing friendship with Jonathan Archer before or since, but she'd felt a need to know that she couldn’t explain, and thankfully, he had neither laughed at her nor pointed out the several failures of logic that had led her to that point. And after delivering the report personally, he'd never mentioned the topic again.
But now, today, she knew that her illogical sentimentality had also led, in some part, to one of the men whose unorthodox and unapproved methods had saved enough of her planet that there was a colony to be built. She considered again--only the latest instance of many--ways in which her long and frequently strange exposure to humans had made her who she was (and, in this case, had made her someone who would make this trip uninvited), and attempted to relax back against the bulkhead for the remainder of the journey.
Another groundcar awaited her at the spaceport on Earth, but she took her time moving toward it. It had been some time since she had been to San Francisco, and as ever, the smell of the salt and the sea was overwhelming and evocative. Today, perhaps, that was more true than it might have been another time; it seemed she was, at least for the time being, something of a creature of feeling. She stopped to record and send out two brief communications, and then made her way to the street.
She directed the driver toward the Embassy and sat stiffly upright in the passenger compartment for the short ride. It was simple logic to know where Sarek would be; he had no other home, and on those occasions at which they had met (none especially recently, and most of them quite brief, though they had shared several interests and twice conversed for an hour), he had struck her as a frugal man who would not waste resources when he had an apartment here.
When the car stopped, she asked that her luggage be delivered to the residence of Jonathan Archer, and then walked into the building. She was expected, which told her that her message had been received, and the staff in the lobby directed her, although she had already accessed and committed to memory the relevant information.
What she meant to say, when Sarek--tired, too-cordial Sarek--answered the door himself, was the traditional statement. It was true, truer than it would be for nearly any of his colleagues, for her to offer the ritual assurance that she understood. But that wasn't what came to her lips, and she paused.
Sarek stepped back slightly, and T'Pol realized she had frowned unknowingly. She smoothed her features, aware that her age and position afforded her some leeway regarding emotional display, and tried again, choosing instead the phrase his wife might have used. "I'm sorry for your loss."
Sarek regarded her for a moment. "We all have lost," he observed.
"Of course. However, I anticipate your loss may present specific cultural difficulties, as regards memory and grieving."
He stepped back and ushered her in. "And you would grieve with me?"
"My daughter's father was human." Even the classified reports had been purposefully vague in some ways, and she'd never quite implied aloud before that the relationship had been other than collegial. She looked up and added, "We had intended to try again, before he died."
"I see." Sarek said. "Then perhaps you will not take offense if I offer you a local tea to which I have had occasion to become accustomed?"
"Trip was from the American South," she said. "He made his iced and improbably sweet."
The set of Sarek's brow changed fractionally, and he nodded. "I believe a portion of refined sugar, which I usually avoid, may be appropriate at this time." He turned toward the kitchen and added, over his shoulder, "I believe the phrase is, make yourself at home."
She chose a seat in the living area, and waited. He might, she supposed, wish not to discuss his late wife, but she was uniquely qualified to listen, and she had time.