This has been written for fun and for free, with no claim to characters or situations.
Hoshi Sato was on a mission. There were no Suliban to stop. No epic life or death crisis to resolve. But her mission felt no less urgent. The need to confront Jonathan Archer, her friend and Captain had been growing stronger by the day. She had been meaning to have this conversation for a while, but distractions had kept popping up every time she tried. Finally, this morning she arrived early for her shift and was told that the Captain was in his ready room. Great! She thought, and hit the appropriate link: "Captain, do you have a few minutes to speak with me?"
"Sure, come on in" he replied.
At least he's in a good mood. Though she worried that was about to change. She mentally prepared herself one last time and went in.
"Good morning Sir"
"Good morning Ensign, what can I do for you?"
"Permission to set aside rank Sir?"
"Of course Hoshi"
"Jon, do you have any idea what you've been doing!?"
"I'm afraid you're going to have to be more specific..."
"The gifts Jon, I saw a few things, I heard a few things and... I think you might be in over your head. I just wanted to confirm what it's all about and maybe warn you..."
"Oh that.. warn me? Do you remember the Ferengi incident?"
"That was months ago!"
"Yeah. I was trying to dissuade them from taking T'Pol, and said some unkind things about her, thinking they would be less inclined to want her"
"Well... what did you say?"
"I said she wasn't that interesting, had no sense of humor, and that she was always complaining."
"Ok, but it's not like she..."
"But that wasn't enough so I said she had really bad breath, poor bathing habits, ate too much, was always breaking things and her high squeaky voice gave me a headache. With their ears, I figured they'd be sensitive to noise so..."
"I'm sure it was all for..."
He winced "...and she happened to hear it... all of it."
"Jon how could you!? I mean, I'm sure she didn't act offended.. but I'm offended on her behalf! Don't you think you could have..."
"Oh she let me know she was offended"
With Hoshi's voice getting louder and her words coming out faster, Jon decided he would need to throw Trip in front of the shuttlepod and save himself. I'm sure Trip will forgive me someday...
"did you happen to hear Trip's comments about his wife Hoshi?" He grinned.
She tried not to blush and was hoping she hid it well enough under her mask of righteousness indignation. "Nice try Jon, I'm not going to be distracted so easily" This was the fun part anyway. Time to wipe that smile off his face
"I'm guessing you don't know, but those gifts you've been giving T'Pol, they're traditional Vulcan courting gifts"
Jon looked at her stunned. It was Hoshi's turn to smile.
"The Guide to Gifts for Vulcans by Daniel Chom was debunked 20 years ago! I thought everyone knew that," she couldn't hold it in any longer and her smile turned to laughter.
Jon went from stunned to horrified, and the color drained from his face.
"Chom was interviewing a young Vulcan male. Together, they were the ones to discover the intoxicating effects of chocolate on Vulcans. The Vulcan happened to have been courting at the time and all the details on gift giving that he provided were centered around that. Chom didn't realize the descriptions were specifically related to courting... how many have you given to T'Pol?"
"Um... all of them?"
"All four!?" Uh oh, I'm too late.
"Yeah, I just gave her the fourth one last night"
"What was her response?"
"She mentioned exchanging messages about it with her family and was greatly enjoying the interest. I thought it was just a play on the idea of payback for all the stuff I said.. you know interest."
"No Jon. If you directly translate it, that's the Vulcan phrasing of letting you know she's ready for a formal proposal. Congratulations! I need to find a dress for the wedding. Nothing too soon ok? I think you have upwards of a year to finalize it. That trading post on Deloo IV would have been the perfect place to find one."
Jon paused, deep in thought.
Hoshi looked at her friend. Did he break? Maybe she went too far. Was this going to be the incident that pushes Jonathan Archer over the edge? How was she going to help him out of this?
Actually he's just considering it. He had begun to suspect that the gifts were more intimate than the book suggested. The process of choosing and creating the gifts had forced him to think about T'Pol in a new light. She had long since earned his respect and admiration. Wasn't it natural, particularly in the presence of physical attraction, for that to turn into more? After a few minutes of Hoshi looking at him with a pitying expressing, he decided this was something worth serious consideration. He told her "You know what... don't worry about it. This could be a good thing. A fortuitous accident. I need some time to think, can you hold anything that's not an emergency?" She agreed and left him sitting and thinking, working it through.
Hoshi couldn't stand it. She lasted until her relief came for the morning break. She needed to find T'Pol, hoping to find out what was going on with the other half. It didn't add up. I don't know whether it's a good idea to interfere... I should at least try to head off a possible interplanetary incident. Or more likely a train wreck of epic proportions. T'Pol had the day off and Hoshi spent half her break looking all over before showing up breathless at the door to T'Pol's quarters.
Hoshi found her friend sitting on her meditation pad in the corner of her room.
"How may I help you Ensign?"
"I"' sorry to bother you, I haven't much time. I need to speak to you outside our work roles."
"Please, come sit down Hoshi"
Hoshi sits on the floor across from T'Pol. Now that she's here, it's hard to ignore the other woman's beauty. Thinking of all they've been through, it's not hard to imagine Jon actually seeing her as a potential partner. "I'd like to talk about the gifts Jon has been giving you." Wait was that a smirk?
"I am aware you knew Jonathan before our mission. Are you here because you are jealous?"
Hoshi is stunned into silence.
"Jonathan has given me very thoughtful and worthy gifts. He has much that he might bring to a union. Don't you agree?"
The haughtiness is overwhelming. Anyone who thinks Vulcans have no emotion are blind. Hoshi sees pride, jealousy, perhaps even anger. And we normally get along so well.
"Do you think the children will have pointed ears? I'll need to consult with Phlox soon... "
And then from the crushing shock, Hoshi noticed something. T'Pols eyes, there was no anger there... if anything it's mirth. T'Pol looks like she's trying to not smile as she hands Hoshi a PADD. A copy of the same book Jonathan referenced is on the screen. She knows!
"I did not know what to do when he gave me the first gift. It was difficult to find a logical reason beyond the obvious... I decided to investigate what humans know of our traditions. I discovered that in the local ship's data cache."
The thoughts raced through Hoshi's mind So T'Pol thinks it's a misunderstanding and she's just been playing along... and has no idea that Jon might decide to take it seriously. It's Hoshi's turn to shut down. Shes considers all the angles and decides to go all in.
"T'Pol, I just came from confirming things with Jonathan. The book had been debunked by humans many years ago. But he didn't know. He was just trying to express his appreciation as friends. He asked me to not to say anything but I don't think that's in his best interest, or yours ... because he realized he might actually be happy with the possibility."
And now it is of course T'Pols turn to wonder. "They are very thoughtful gifts, not just satisfying the minimal requirements..." she realized that since finding that book, she had not actually been honoring her culture. "I accepted it as a misunderstanding and had been playing along and planned for all the ways I would tease Jonathan... the Captain... no ... Jonathan about it in the future." She had not truly considered the gifts or even the idea they represent. Now she must. She stood and slightly bowed. Hoshi mirrored her. "Thank you Hoshi for bringing this to my attention, good night."
Hoshi replied while being practically pushed out of the door: "Actually it's only 1000hrs." T'Pol gave her a look and closed the door.
It was just as well, Hoshi realized if I don't hurry Im going to be late returning to duty!
Later that day, Jonathan asked Trip if he would skip breakfast tomorrow in the captain's mess. He had a few things to discuss with T'Pol and would appreciate the privacy.
The next morning, T'Pol was walking to breakfast early with a PADD in her hand and a plan occupying her mind. She estimated that she has at least a half an hour before Jonathan usually arrives. She hoped that by arriving first she could center herself and have everything prepared. She walked into a junction and nearly ran into Jonathan. He looked at her and chuckled. They walked the rest of the way to the mess together and sat down.
Jon admitted "I was hoping to arrive early and calm my nerves."
T'Pol replied "I had similar intentions. Perhaps we should each continue with our own plan. "
Jon nodded in agreement.
They sat, sharing the comfortable silence for almost half an hour, occasionally looking at one another or out at the stars. At some point, the steward walked in and apologized. "I'm sorry Sir, Ma'am. I didn't hear the call button."
Jonathan smiles, "no problem, we hadn't called yet."
He orders breakfast for T'Pol. She in turn orders breakfast for him. The steward looks back and forth at both of them and then wisely says nothing more than "OK, coming right up".
Jonathan takes a calming breath and then starts what may be the most important conversation of his life "perhaps it's time we talk?"
"Would you like to begin or shall I?"
T'Pol replies "I would. I believed that we had a misunderstanding, but that we would still reach the same conclusion." She slid the PADD to Jon, with the front page of Chom's guide to gifts for Vulcans on the screen.
Jonathan started feeling worried at the direction she was going "Yes but I..."
"Then I spoke with Hoshi. I would like to tell you what is not in that book. There are many details that are well stated. The primary detail missing, both in that book and in your gifting, was the intent. I do not wish to understate the importance of that choice, but I would like to set it aside for now... "
T'Pol continued "The gifts are important primarily because they are symbolic. The choosing of the gifts, the thoughts behind those choices and the implications of those thoughts, how they reflect the chooser, their thoughts on the chosen... all of these details are significant."
"Yes I found that the mental exercises they described had me considering you, and myself in new ways. I believe I understand."
"After the first gift I was not sure how to respond. During my investigation of human understanding of Vulcan culture, I checked the ships database and saw that Chom's guide was in the local cache, and thus surmised that you had read it. I assume this was initiated by the Ferengi incident?"
Jonathan nodded his head with a sheepish smile "I did say that I would make it up to you. I was trying to find something to help convey the opposite of those words. I didn't think you believed them, but still I wanted to be clear about your importance, both as a member of the crew as well as to me personally. I found that book and just started thinking... and it was all just so..."
"Logical" they said simultaneously.
T'Pol continued "After I discovered the origin of your gift, I also read through the book and concluded that it was a cultural misunderstanding. I had intended to simply play along, as I have done with you throughout, and with Hoshi when she first came to me yesterday. However, speaking with Hoshi more, I had come to realize that I did not honor my own culture and traditions. It is equally important for the chosen to consider each gift; how it might reflect the chooser, and consider how the chooser sees them as individuals and as a unit. These are things I did not do. For that I apologize. I have done that to the exclusion of all else for the last 20 hours. And in so doing one thing becomes clear."
Here she paused and Jonathan could see the emotion in her eyes... "One of my people, having known me for many years could not have chosen better for any of the gifts you have given me. They are individually and collectively perfect."
T'Pol reached her hand across the table. Jonathan took it. "And now Jonathan, I would like to return to the beginning: to intent. I would like to know your intent. If the choosing and giving created the intent, it is important that I know... I request that you to take time to consider it."
Jonathan smiled. "Actually, you weren't the only one doing some serious thinking last night. Hoshi also gave me a lot to think about after our own chat yesterday morning. I hope this answers your question, even though it is a question of my own. On Earth, we have our own customs and traditions." With his other hand he removed a small box from his pocket and placed it on the table. "I would like to offer you one more gift. This gift is not unique, nor did I have a hand or even a say in its creation. But it is very special. It has been passed down through the Archer family line for many generations, usually from grandmother to grandson." Jon flipped open the box lid and turned it to face T'Pol. "Each grandson then asks a very special woman to bear the ring, with the hope and intent that someday it will be passed to their grandson. T'Pol... will you marry me?"
"I will." The roar of emotion across their joined hands is blinding in its intensity.
"I hope my intention is clear"
AN: yes I know, it's very cheap to write a story about the importance of gifts and to not say what any of the gifts are. I leave that to your imagination (and/or your comments) dear reader.