Summary: Trip and T'Pol share a moment of his childhood.
Notes: Written for iwasanartist. Set between Storm Front and Home.
T'Pol came over to the table just as Trip sighed and set his PADD down.
"May I join you?" Her tone was uncertain, as if he might be about to complain about her.
He waved a hand at the empty seat beside him, but his gaze returned to the PADD. He could feel her need to ask what it contained, but knew she wouldn't, to respect his privacy. He gave in to her curiosity. "My parents' new place." He sat back a little and wrapped his hands round his cooling mug. "They sent me pictures so I'd know what it looked like." He reached out to nudge the PADD towards her, inviting her to look.
She obligingly picked up the PADD and his gaze followed it. He continued watching as she scrolled through the photos on it. He'd gotten his interest in photography from his mom and there were a lot of them. "It looks..." she began, then seemed to be struggling to find the right words to describe it.
"Nice," he filled in for her, as she replaced the PADD on the table. "It looks nice." He sighed again, but managed to look up at T'Pol.
She raised an eyebrow. "But?"
"It's not home. It's not the house I grew up in." He waved a hand in the direction of the PADD. "It doesn't contain any of my parents' stuff." Technically it did, but it wasn't anything he'd seen before. None of the furniture was anything he'd grown up with.
T'Pol didn't point that out, for which he was glad.
"I left most of my stuff there," he continued, quieter. "I brought a few things here and left everything else there. I thought it would be safe until I needed it." He choked on the last words and put a fist to his mouth.
T'Pol reached out to put her hand on his other arm. "People are more important than possessions."
He nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat so he could speak. "I know." He was lucky that his parents hadn't been home when the Xindi came. But sometimes it was hard to remind himself of that. "Perhaps humans don't have such good memories as Vulcans, but our possessions remind us of people we know and places we've been." Some of which no longer existed. He studied his drink as he added, "Of my sister. And things my grandmother gave me before she died." His grandmother had died some time ago, but it didn't mean he didn't miss her from time to time.
He glanced over at T'Pol. To most people she would appear to be unmoved, but he could see the subtle sympathetic expression on her face.
"They remind Vulcans too." She squeezed his arm. "Tell me of a memory of your grandmother."
Trip frowned at this non sequitur and T'Pol clarified. "I believe your memory is not as bad as you think. And I wish to know more about your relatives."
He smiled a little at that. "Okay." It would at least be easier than talking about his sister, which he was still hesitant to do, much of the time. His gaze drifted over to the windows while he chose a good story. His grandmother had been the sort of person to whom good stories happened often. However, many of them were of the 'you had to be there' type, which T'Pol wouldn't appreciate.
"There was the time we went rowing, just the two of us," he began, smiling a little at the memory. "I didn't often get her all to myself." When he did go over to his grandparents it was generally with his brother and sister in tow.
He glanced over to T'Pol who nodded, and he continued. "She told me she'd once been an Olympic rower. She wasn't," he added in an aside, waving his hand. "But I was young and gullible and she used long words to talk about boats. I'm still not sure if she made them up, but I was impressed."
T'Pol sipping at her drink reminded him he had one too. It had gone cool, but it cured the dryness in his mouth that he hadn't noticed before he started the story.
"We went out on a lake and she taught me to row." He gazed off into the distance again as he pictured the scene, given a more rosy glow with nostalgia for a simpler time. "She did know how to row, I'll give her that. We rowed around the lake and then she let me do it on my own." He shook his head. "I could hardly move the next day, my muscles ached so much. But when we got back to shore she bought me a cheap medal from the gift store." He'd kept the medal. When he closed his eyes he could see it hanging on the wall in his bedroom. There had been a nail in the wall at the bottom of his bed and he'd draped it over that. In his mind, as a child, he'd won gold in the Olympics.
"You didn't need to see the medal to remember that."
"How long will I remember it for?" he said bitterly ."Memories fade over time." He opened his eyes and turned to T'Pol. "She died during the Olympics. I remember she kept telling me she'd be rowing in the next one. Even though I was twenty one by then and I knew it wasn't true. But I didn't care."
T'Pol's hand moved down his arm to take his. He squeezed her hand.
"I guess Vulcans aren't much for rowing," he said, trying to lighten the mood, rather than dwelling on his bittersweet memories.
"No," she replied. "Vulcan is a desert planet. Water is not used for leisure activities."
He smiled. "I can't imagine Vulcans having many leisure activities."
"We have many activities we pursue to improve our bodies and our minds." She straightened her shoulders.
He snorted. Vulcans would. "But nothing just for the pleasure of doing something?"
She hesitated before saying, "No."
He looked over at her curiously. He was only teasing her, but he was pretty she'd done a thing or two just for the pleasure of doing it. If he tried, maybe he could get her to admit it. "If you say so."
"I do." She let go of his hand and leaned away from him a little.
He bit back a smile. He'd work on that admission. "I should teach you to play poker. It'll be educational," he added, leaning towards her a little. "I bet you have the best poker face." He stood and held out a hand, not expecting her to take it, but to usher her towards his quarters, where he had a pack of cards.
She stood. "I will endeavor to face it."
He laughed. She gave him a look that told him she didn't know what was funny. But she did, he'd put money on it. He briefly put a hand on her shoulder as they headed out of the mess hall. He'd been feeling a little melancholy and she'd somehow managed to cheer him up, just as she always did. At least one good thing had come out of their time in the Expanse.