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FIC: Fortunate Voyager 3/4 (PG-13, Enterprise crossover)

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  • Mara Greengrass
    TITLE: Fortunate Voyager AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass Other headings and disclaimers in part 1 * * * * * Although he knew he should probably check on the others
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2004
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      TITLE: Fortunate Voyager
      AUTHOR: Mara Greengrass

      Other headings and disclaimers in part 1

      * * * * *

      Although he knew he should probably check on the others first, Scott lay
      on the bunk Reed showed him, closing his eyes and wishing...wishing for
      something he couldn't quite articulate. Maybe it was security. Or peace.
      Or a leggy red-head who drank too much coffee.

      He removed his glasses and put on his visor--not the most comfortable
      thing to sleep in, but less likely to slip off and cause him to put a
      hole in the ship. Too bad he hadn't been carrying his night goggles
      along with glasses and visor.

      Perhaps the engineers could make something...make something comfortable,
      so he could sleep. Sleep.

      Scott slept.

      * * * * *

      When the blaring alarm startled Scott out of restless sleep, his first
      instinct was to reach for the visor on his nightstand. A flailing hand
      met nothing but air and his eyes shot open when he realized he was
      already wearing the visor.

      "Jean, what's happ--" Like a kick to the groin, memories hit him,
      leaving nausea in their wake. No Jean. No school. Outer space.

      Reed wasn't there. The alarm obviously meant something serious was
      happening, but Scott was reluctant to dash out without a better idea
      what had gone wrong.

      He tried the communication system, but it was shut down, and the
      computer didn't allow him sufficient access, leaving reconnaissance the
      only option.

      Breathing deeply, he hit the button to open the door but nothing
      happened. Curiouser and curiouser. He could blast through it, he was
      certain, but that might be fatal to whoever was on the other side,
      friend or foe.

      Had the captain found some reason to distrust him? Were guards on their
      way? Or was some outside force at work? He cursed the impulse that
      allowed his team to separate. They should have slept in the brig if
      necessary. How the hell was he supposed to protect them if he didn't
      even know where they were?

      A sound behind him and he whirled, hand to his visor. Kitty scrambled
      through the wall, holding onto the comm officer, Ensign Sato, whose eyes
      were wide. "Mr. Summers!"

      "What's going on?"

      "The ship's been boarded by Xindi," Sato said, breathing hard. "Captain
      Archer managed to comm a few of us before the bridge was taken. He, the
      first officer, and the chief engineer were all there. Lieutenant Reed is
      somewhere down in the armory, but we got cut off when the intruders took
      out the comms."

      "Can you find Bobby and Logan and get us to the armory? We can't do much
      good from here."

      Sato nodded after a sharp glance at him, but she seemed willing to
      accept his leadership. "Bobby's no problem since he's probably in
      Michael's quarters, but Logan's with the MACOs and they could be any
      number of places."

      "Okay, only Bobby then. Logan can take care of himself anyway."

      "Then let's go."

      "Ready?" He looked and Kitty and she nodded, taking their hands. "Which
      way?"

      Sato thought for a second and pointed.

      With a feeling that he could see the molecular structure of the ship's
      walls, Scott followed the two women, trying to remember what little he'd
      seen of the ship's layout and weaponry.

      * * * * *

      When they dropped through the ceiling into Rostov's quarters, they found
      Bobby pacing back and forth. His face lit up. "There you are! Michael
      left for engineering a few minutes ago, then the alarm went off."

      "Grab hold," Scott said, and with that they were on their way again.

      The sound of energy weapons was incredibly noisy in the confined
      quarters of the ship--a whine like a million mosquitos and crickets
      combined with the shouts of the ship's human defenders. With instincts
      that Scott was pleased to see, Kitty dragged them sideways into a room.
      The startled occupant looked up from an open panel. "Hoshi?"

      Sato grinned. "Hey, Alison. Would you like a lift to the armory?"

      Grinning fiercely in return, she jumped up and took Bobby's hand. "Hey,
      even we engineers can shoot if we have to. I was getting ready to take a
      chance on the conduits, but I think I like your way better."

      They plunged through a dizzying series of walls, corridors, and floors.
      Scott let his spatial sense map out their path while he kept an eye on
      Kitty; he was worried she'd tire, but adrenaline kept her bright-eyed
      and energetic.

      Through another gray wall and Sato grinned. "Straight down, but be ready
      for Malcolm to shoot at us." And they were sinking, dropping to the
      floor of the armory, where ten weapons were instantly trained on them.

      "Freeze," Reed shouted.

      "We're here to help," Sato said.

      "Them?" He stared.

      "Yes, them."

      Reed seemed about to refuse, but one of the marines stepped forward.
      "Lieutenant, it'd be mighty handy to have a girl who can walk through
      walls and a guy with laser eyes."

      Scott decided this might not be the best time to correct misconceptions
      about his mutation.

      "Major Hawkins is right," another marine said. "After all, Logan's been
      damn helpful so far."

      "Logan? Where is he?" Scott looked around the room, but saw only
      grim-faced marines and other members of the crew.

      "He and a couple of the guys are doing a little scouting around
      engineering. Lieutenant, he got hit by that Xindi weapon and got right
      back up!"

      A small access point at the far end of the room swung open and the
      weapons turned that way, relaxing when Logan and several soldiers jumped
      out.

      "What's the situation?" Reed asked.

      "Engineering's locked down. The bastards haven't gotten in yet, but
      they're getting close." The soldier continued to give his report and
      Logan trotted over to Scott.

      "Ugly," he said, a snarl hovering on his lips. "But they die when you
      cut them."

      Scott nodded, already tuning in to the conversation. Reed had a map of
      the ship up, pointing out where he wanted troops to go. Sighing at the
      necessity, Scott called, "What about us?"

      Reed twisted halfway around. "I want you to stay out of this."

      Scott had already picked out his target and with a quick flick of his
      visor, he blasted a stool halfway across the room, people leaping out of
      its way. "I can do a lot more than that. Let me help."

      "Let *us* help," Bobby said.

      Scott shot him a look, and was about to tell him no, but from the look
      on his face and Kitty's, that would be a struggle he'd lose, along with
      valuable time.

      He couldn't call Reed indecisive either. "Fine, you're all with me.
      Gomez, Chen, join Hawkins. The rest of you know what to do. Go."

      "What are *we* doing?" Kitty asked.

      Reed looked at her and looked at Scott. "If you're sure..."

      Bobby stood up straight and tried to look like an adult. "We're not
      waiting here!"

      Scott grinned quickly, a well of pride in his chest. "But I want the two
      of you to stay intangible as much as possible, okay?" They nodded and he
      looked at Reed. "They're with us."

      "Good, then we're going to take back the bridge. I've spent a lot of
      time training Captain Archer. I'd hate for it to go to waste."

      * * * * *

      The deck was cold under Jon's knees as he knelt, but not nearly as cold
      as his anger at the reptilian Xindi who sat in his chair, his splotchy,
      bumpy face contorted into an amused snarl. The Xindi who'd casually
      backhanded Trip into a bulkhead when he'd refused to lock down the
      ship's doors. The one who'd shot Ensign Tanner from the armory, who'd
      tried to defend the bridge.

      From where he knelt, a hard hand against the back of his neck, Jon was
      pretty sure he could see both Trip and Tanner breathing. Elsewhere, he
      knew the crew was fighting, because the reports coming in to the Xindi
      commander said so. His eyes widened at the reports of a man with claws.
      Jon hoped the visitors from another Earth weren't going to get
      themselves killed in *his* fight.

      "I have not been able to break the final codes," the Xindi at the
      science console said.

      "Then perhaps," the commander said, "It is time we convinced these
      humans to help." He stepped over to where Trip lay and lifted him up
      like a rag doll. "Would you miss this one? Or perhaps that one over
      there?" He pointed at T'Pol, whose face didn't change.

      Breathing gone shallow, Jon couldn't respond, couldn't move. He had to
      wait, to stall, but his mind was blank. Hurry, Malcolm, he thought.

      * * * * *

      Reed eyed the mutants as the rest of the security team dispersed. Scott
      could detect a hint of amusement when all of them studied him back.

      Reed tapped a few commands into a handheld device. "We'll use your
      ability to go through walls to put us right behind the bridge. These are
      the schematics."

      Scott held the display so the other three could see.

      "Here's what we're going to do..."

      * * * * *

      Trip's head lolled forward, a puppet held by a malevolent puppeteer.
      Short sharp breaths escaped Jon as he stared at his friend. T'Pol was
      silent, but he knew what she or Trip would be telling him.

      There was no possible response to the Xindi, so he stared at the
      commander, despair burning his heart. He wanted to close his eyes but
      that would be a betrayal. He held his breath as the Xindi growled,
      holding a weapon to Trip's head.

      The bridge seemed to explode with simultaneous action. A thin, red beam
      smashed into the weapon pointed at Trip's head, followed by one that
      threw the Xindi and Trip against the wall. Before anyone could respond,
      Malcolm was there, shooting Xindi with surgical precision.

      Two hapless Xindi standing in front of the captain's chair were
      practically skewered by Logan, claws out and a full-throated roar coming
      from his chest.

      Struggling upright, the Xindi commander reached for another weapon
      strapped to his chest, but before it cleared its casing, it was covered
      in a thick layer of ice.

      Dazed, Jon watched Kitty blithely running through weapons aimed at her,
      which then refused to fire. Streams of ice flew from Bobby's hand to
      smash a Xindi who tried to attack with just his hands.

      It was all over so fast he barely had time to catch his breath. While
      Scott and Bobby kept an eye on the unconscious Xindi, Malcolm hurried
      over to him, glancing down at the manacles that held his wrists. "Logan?"

      The sound of metal grating on metal, and one claw came out of the man's
      knuckles. More delicately than Jon might have imagined, Logan used the
      claw to slice off his handcuffs.

      Over Malcolm's shoulder, Jon could see Trip slowly sitting up with
      Kitty's assistance. She dabbed at several wounds, but Jon saw none that
      looked especially serious.

      From that point, retaking the ship was almost anticlimactic. Before Jon
      was even standing upright, Malcolm and T'Pol were receiving reports from
      all over the ship. "Sir, engineering has been secured by my team."

      "Good."

      "There's still a great deal of hand-to-hand combat in the corridors, but
      we've got them on the run." Malcolm snapped several orders into a
      communicator and Jon took the opportunity to turn toward the visitors,
      who were standing guard over the Xindi that had been on the bridge.

      "Thank you," he said to Summers.

      "It's not done," Logan said. "They're still out there."

      Summers looked at Jon, his expression long-suffering. "Captain, with
      your permission, I think my associate here would like to go hit some
      more Xindi."

      Jon glanced at Malcolm, who nodded. "Far be it from me to prevent
      someone from hitting Xindi on my ship."

      Logan and Malcolm went into a huddle over a map and Jon turned to T'Pol.
      "Sub-commander?"

      "I am well, Captain. There is some damage to sensors, but I believe I am
      detecting approximately 50 Xindi on Enterprise and another 100 on their
      own ship."

      "We've neutralized at least 40 of those that are here," Malcolm said as
      Logan dropped into a Jeffries tube toward the lower decks.

      "What next, Malcolm?"

      "Sir, we should--" His eyes snapped back to the display in front of him.
      "They're retreating."

      Everyone looked up from their tasks.

      "Good," Jon said, sighing. "Right now that's good enough. Get our people
      out of their way. I don't want anyone killed while the enemy is leaving."

      "Aye, sir."

      Malcolm issued quiet orders and Jon turned to T'Pol. "Get me a damage
      report as soon as possible. And get someone up here to guard these pris--"

      A yelp from Kitty made Jon's heart jump as he whirled. She and the other
      mutants stared in surprise at the empty space that had formerly held the
      highest-ranking Xindi.

      "Damn!" Malcolm growled. "Matter transporter. Figures their captain
      would have an out."

      Jon sank down in his chair, weary from head to toe.

      "A message incoming from the Xindi ship," T'Pol said, her voice an oasis
      of calm.

      Looking automatically for Hoshi at her station, Jon caught himself.
      "Let's see it."

      "Audio only, Captain."

      A hissing sound filled the bridge until T'Pol had compensated. "Humans.
      You may think you have won, but you are wrong. We will be back again and
      again until your entire species is destroyed."

      Silence, punctured only by the sounds of a repair crew.

      "Ah, that's what they always say," Scott said.

      All eyes turned to stare at him, disbelief on every face until they saw
      the small grin. Despite himself, Jon snorted out a laugh. Kitty and
      Bobby laughed so hard they had to sit down, their humor tinged with
      hysteria and adrenaline. Gradually, everyone else joined in, except
      T'Pol who steadfastly ignored them.

      * * * * *

      Jon looked around the conference room table at his senior staff. "Concerns?"

      "They're dangerous, Captain," Malcolm said with a frown. "More dangerous
      than we'd guessed."

      "They saved the ship!" Hoshi glared at Malcolm. "They risked their lives
      to protect us."

      T'Pol looked up from her padd. "They acted to protect themselves as
      well, Ensign."

      "Their actions don't necessarily prove anything," Trip said with a sigh.

      With all due respect, sir, I must disagree." Travis lifted his chin.
      "They could have taken our ship before this. They could have hidden and
      waited for us to retake the ship. They put themselves in danger to save
      the lives of our crew."

      Jon nodded slowly. "I think they have redeemed the trust I placed in them."

      "I agree," Malcolm said.

      There was a long pause as every head turned to stare at him. Even
      T'Pol's eyes widened slightly.

      "What did you say?" Trip asked, each word distinct and the expression on
      his face displaying a clear message: Who are you and what have you done
      with Malcolm Reed?

      Malcolm's eyebrows rose and he seemed puzzled as he looked around the
      room. "I only said they were dangerous. I didn't say they couldn't be
      trusted."

      Jon felt his lips twitch and he tried not to laugh aloud. Trip shook his
      head in disgust and T'Pol had her 'I will never understand humans' face on.

      "Well, then," Jon said, "other concerns?" He looked at Trip and T'Pol.

      Trip shrugged. "I think they're okay, Cap'n. They came by accident, far
      as we can tell."

      "T'Pol?"

      "It would not be logical for me to overrule Mr. Reed's professional
      opinion," she said.

      "Not the most ringing endorsement I've ever heard," Jon said.

      "Captain?"

      "Never mind. Hoshi, any luck in contacting Admiral Forrest?"

      "No, sir. Too much interference."

      "Okay. They don't get total access to the ship, but we'll remove some of
      the restrictions. Access to the armory and engineering should be under
      supervision."

      Nods around the table and Jon took a breath. "Back to work, everyone.
      We've still got Xindi to track."

      * * * * *

      Jon found all four mutants in the mess hall. They looked up as he
      approached, expressions revealing--Logan fiercely protective, Kitty
      worried, Bobby frightened but trying to look tough, and Summers, even
      his blank face had cracked slightly to show concern.

      "Join me in the captain's dining room?"

      The kids still looked worried, but Logan and Summers relaxed at the
      phrasing of a question rather than an order. No question those two were
      sharp.

      Everyone settled around the table and Jon sat at the end, choosing his
      words with care. "Let me begin by allaying any fears you might have. We
      have not changed our minds about offering you safe harbor."

      "Thank you," Summers said. "As you can imagine, we were concerned."

      "I understand. Knowing what you four can do and seeing it, well, they're
      too different things." Jon looked at the ceiling. "I think I also see
      why people on your world are so worried."

      Logan snorted and Summers shot him an indecipherable look.

      "But we helped," Kitty said, looking at the adults for reassurance.

      Jon sighed. "I know, but it's a question of human nature--no pun intended."

      Bobby choked back a snort of laughter and Logan grinned at him.

      "I don't get it." Kitty's voice was very small.

      Jon looked at Summers and Logan, neither of whom looked inclined to
      answer. "It's hard," he said, feeling his way, "for most people to
      believe that you wouldn't use your abilities to do wrong."

      "That's not fair!"

      "I know," Jon said.

      "How do we convince them?" Bobby asked.

      Summers looked at the boy. "We keep doing what we've been doing. We set
      an example. We fight the legislation as it comes. We stop Magneto."

      The kids seemed satisfied with that, but Logan looked away. For that
      matter, Jon thought, Summers didn't sound all that convinced by his own
      words. Although, with the death of his fiancée and the events he'd
      described, who would blame him?

      "Captain?"

      "Hmm?" He looked at Summers.

      "How will your crew react to us? Should we be concerned?"

      "Good question." Tapping his fingers on the table, Jon considered it
      with the seriousness it deserved. "There may be a few who avoid you, but
      my crew is unusual. We've been places and seen things most of humanity
      can't even imagine yet. I think your defense of this ship should be good
      enough for most. I think you'll find you're welcome here."

      Logan looked about to say something, but Summers caught his attention.
      They didn't speak, but an entire conversation seemed to flash by. Jon
      glanced at Kitty and Bobby, but since they didn't look worried, he
      assumed it was normal behavior.

      "Thank you," Summers said after a moment.

      "If you have no other questions, I still have repairs to supervise."

      "That was the most important thing," Summers said.

      Rising from the table, Jon nodded at all four visitors. "I'm sorry your
      introduction to this century has been so stressful. I hope things calm
      down."

      * * * * *

      Scott was frustrated he couldn't do anything to help repair the ship,
      but one look at the innards of a bulkhead and he knew he was out of his
      league. He gravitated to sickbay, where he found, to his pleasure, that
      he could understand some of what went on there.

      "Medical technology has evolved," Phlox said as he showed Scott how to
      use a dermal regenerator, "but the basic principles remain the same.
      You'll do fine."

      Logan was off guarding the prisoners and trading war stories, and Hoshi
      had taken the kids off to wind down. But Scott couldn't quite relax, so
      he scanned and set bones and cleaned wounds. Finally, the last patient
      was healed and either sent to their quarters or bedded down in sickbay.
      Phlox cleaned his hands, looking pleased, and Scott leaned against a
      wall, yawning.

      "My fiancée was a doctor," he said, staring at the opposite wall with
      its hypnotic display of twisting and twining DNA strands.

      "Oh?"

      "She was brilliant, she was learning all about mutations, but she was
      always ready to stop and put a bandage on one of the kids." His face
      felt like it was on fire and when he looked over, Phlox was waiting.
      "Jean would have loved to talk to you about medicine, see your equipment."

      Phlox smiled.

      Why did he feel the need to talk about her now? Since her death, he'd
      barely said her name, but there was something freeing about this place
      where only his three teammates knew her, and the locals didn't feel any
      guilt over her death.

      "I miss Jean so much," he said quietly.

      Phlox nodded. "If one of my wives died, I would be saddened. As it is,
      being without them is the hardest thing about being on the Enterprise."

      Distracted, Scott had to wonder if he'd heard correctly. "Wives?"

      "Yes, I have three. Each of whom have other husbands, so at least they
      are not lonely while I'm gone. It is really a most sensible system."

      "I'm...sure." For a moment, Scott had a dizzying vision of being married
      to Ororo and Jean and another woman, who were also married to Logan and...

      That was when his brain imploded and he shook his head.

      "But it's not for every species," Phlox added.

      "Mmmm."

      Silence fell again, broken only by the background hum of the machines
      attached to each bed. Scott crossed his arms and watched the rise and
      fall of the nearest crewman's chest. He felt close to Jean here, in this
      place of healing she would have enjoyed so much.

      * * * * *

      Battle over and repairs underway, Jon indulged himself. Late in ship's
      night, when the mess hall was mostly empty, he sipped a glass of
      whiskey, staring at the stars streaming by. Certainly, he could have
      done so in his quarters or the captain's mess, but he'd developed this
      habit early on and kept on with it. Somehow, drinking in public wasn't
      quite as depressing as drinking in private, even if nobody was drinking
      with him.

      Perhaps the logic was a bit circular, but it worked well enough.

      Jon stared into his glass, trying to sort through everything that had
      happened recently. The liquid held just as few answers as always.

      Another Xindi attack. Thankfully, there'd been no new deaths, but there
      were some serious injuries. Trip was alive, no thanks to anything he'd
      done. If not for their visitors, there was no telling if Malcolm would
      have arrived in time.

      What the hell were they doing out here anyway? They were turning into
      creatures just as bad as the Xindi. Hell, who was he kidding? *He* was
      turning into someone just as bad as the Xindi. Could they ever return to
      Earth? What would the rest of the world think of whatever they had to do
      to make the mission succeed?

      What was happening to them?

      Behind him, the hiss of the opening door surprised him. He craned his
      head, eyebrows going up when he saw Logan paused in the doorway, looking
      hesitant.

      "Captain."

      "Logan." Jon glanced at his bottle. "Join me?"

      That netted him a slight grin as Logan snagged a glass and sat down
      across the small table from him. Jon poured a good-sized slosh in and
      Logan nodded his thanks, leaning back.

      "Good stuff," he said after tasting it.

      "I figured if I was lugging it this far, it'd better be good."

      Logan grunted and settled back in his chair, staring out at the stars,
      his expression nearly as unreadable as his leader's.

      Jon went back to sipping, watching Logan out of the corner of his eye.
      It was odd to sit so comfortably with him, even as part of his brain
      screamed that the man was incredibly dangerous.

      Summers hadn't said that much about Logan, other than mentioning his
      healing ability and how the government had coated his bones in some kind
      of metal which had Trip and T'Pol spending hours poring over samples.
      Malcolm agreed with Jon's assessment that Logan was ex-military and had
      been trained as a killer, possibly even some kind of special forces. The
      MACOs showed him the kind of deference that Malcolm would have
      appreciated receiving, so presumably they knew something everyone else
      didn't.

      It was obvious to anyone with eyes or ears that Summers and Logan didn't
      like each other one bit; nevertheless, Logan followed Summers, equally
      obviously respecting him as a leader, and Summers trusted Logan on his
      team, giving him assignments and assuming they'd be done.

      Logan was a killer. Or at least he had been.

      Summers had to know that. Professor Xavier, the telepath, had to know
      that. But Logan was still a part of the team, and a trusted one if he'd
      been sent as one of two adults to recruit a new student to the school.

      Logan had found his place, even after doing...whatever it was he'd done.
      For whatever reason, he'd dedicated himself to Xavier's attempts at
      peaceful coexistence and he'd been accepted.

      "Something wrong?" Logan glanced at him over the rim of the glass.

      Jon shook his head. "Just thinking."

      "I figured you were drinking in order to stop thinking for a while."

      "Yeah." Jon poured himself another few fingers. "I guess I was."

      Logan studied him for a second and then went back to staring out at the
      stars. "Don't think, then."

      "Is it that easy?"

      "Sometimes."

      "Then I'll try."

      Jon sipped the whiskey and tried not to think about anything. Except
      maybe that there was hope for Enterprise's crew after all.

      * * * * *

      The kids settled into shipboard routine with ease and Scott was amazed,
      as always, by how adaptable his students were. Kitty became the darling
      of the comm crew, who taught her linguistics and electronics. She could
      nearly always be found with her head bent over a console while someone
      showed her some new trick or technique.

      Scott made a mental note to get her more computer training
      if--when--they got home.

      Bobby was nearly adopted by the engineering crew and spent much of his
      time climbing through the maintenance tunnels. He wasn't picking up
      quite as much engineering as Kitty was programming, but Scott was sure
      he was learning something--if only the importance of education.

      Logan, of course, was an honorary marine, MACO, whatever, before their
      first full day was done. It had become a mutual admiration society down
      there, cemented by their joint love of a good scrap and dislike of one
      Malcolm Reed, chief armory officer.

      The armory crew and the MACOs didn't seem to like each other very much,
      apparently all part of a turf war set off when the Enterprise's mission
      switched from peaceful exploration to near-war. And while Logan and Reed
      had come to some sort of understanding while fending off the attack,
      they hadn't precisely become best buddies.

      Everyone else was settled in, but Scott found himself at a loss. What
      was a math teacher and leader of a team of mutants supposed to do on a
      Starfleet ship? He often ate with the captain and they had many an
      illuminating conversation about the nature of leadership. Sometimes
      Sub-commander T'Pol allowed him to observe her work, and that was
      probably his favorite thing; he'd always enjoyed astronomy and now he
      was seeing up close and personal things he'd only read about in Sky and
      Telescope.

      But he couldn't follow either of them around like a puppy, so he found
      himself spending more and more time reading--Earth history, Vulcan
      history, whatever he could dig up in the computer.

      Leaning back in the seat in his temporary quarters, he glanced at the
      time. Reed would be getting off duty soon, so it was probably a good
      time to take off. Although their initial dislike had faded, they weren't
      exactly comfortable with each other either. When was the last time he'd
      eaten, anyway?

      Not for the first time, Scott found himself uncomfortable with the total
      separation from the natural cycles of day and night on Earth. He
      shrugged. Probably a result of his mutation's connection to sunlight, he
      supposed, and why he felt better when undergoing his doctor-mandated UV
      therapy.

      Closing down the latest article on Khan Noonien Singh, he stretched,
      feeling his back pop, then wandered to the mess hall.

      He sat in a corner, toying with a plate of spaghetti. Various
      crewmembers nodded to him as they ducked in for a cup of coffee or a
      sandwich, but seemed to sense his desire to be alone. They probably had
      a great deal of practice at figuring that out about their crewmates.

      Two figures came in, not paying attention to their surroundings, and
      hovered over the desserts for several minutes before making their
      selection. Kitty grinned up at Hoshi, saying something that Scott didn't
      catch.

      Plates in hand, they sat down, still oblivious, and talked. Scott smiled
      as he watched them, happy to see Kitty with a female role model. Those
      were in short supply at the school.

      He only caught occasional words, but they seemed to be covering a wide
      variety of topics, from boys to nanotechnology, best friends to
      electronics. Other crewwomen stopped now and then to talk to them,
      weighing in on the topic at hand.

      So engrossed was Scott, he failed to notice the figure approaching
      *him*, until someone spoke.

      "Mr. Summers?"

      "Hmm?" He looked up to find Sub-commander T'Pol, holding a cup of tea.
      "Oh, hello. Would you care to join me?"

      "Thank you." She sat, the steaming mug emitting a vaguely familiar scent.

      Scott took a bite of his spaghetti, finding himself oddly comfortable
      with this alien woman--probably because he knew she wasn't bothered by
      silence. That was hard to find.

      T'Pol surprised him. "May I ask you a question?"

      "Certainly." Scott found himself intrigued what question she might have
      that couldn't be asked while researching their arrival and his mutation.

      "It is difficult to find the right phrasing." She sipped her tea, then
      looked him in the eye. "I am curious about your shielding and where you
      acquired it."

      For a moment, Scott had a vision of body armor, before he realized what
      she meant. "Oh! You mean my mental shields."

      "Yes." T'Pol inclined her head. "It is not common knowledge, but Vulcans
      have some telepathic abilities."

      From the way she said it, Scott got the idea 'not common knowledge'
      meant something more like 'state secret.' "Not the kind of thing
      everyone needs to know, I would think."

      She nodded. "Yes. I have noticed that your students have rudimentary
      shields better than many on Enterprise, your other teammate's shielding
      is erratic but strong, and yours is...exemplary. This was unexpected."

      Scott looked down at his plate, remembering hours spent training with
      Jean and the Professor, games they would play to teach him to keep them
      out when they weren't wanted. "Professor Xavier is an extremely strong
      telepath and my fiancée was...a telepath and telekinetic."

      "I was not aware of that."

      "I've trained for years to keep up shields at all times, both to protect
      from an enemy and also for their comfort. We teach the children the same."

      "As we do on Vulcan. It is restful to encounter humans who do not
      intrude upon my mind."

      He smiled, stirring the spaghetti. "Jean--my fiancée--used to say
      similar things. She loved coming back to the school because it might be
      noisier to her ears, but it was quieter to her mind."

      "I understand." T'Pol sipped her tea. "The noise can be overwhelming on
      occasion, even through my own shields."

      Scott nodded, wondering what Jean would have made of T'Pol. He rather
      thought she'd have liked her.

      --continued in part 4--
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