Name: Della Street
Email: (none)
Title: SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
Disclaimer: A loving F/F relationship, nothing too explicit
Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise
Pairing: Hoshi/TíPol
Rating: PG-13
Summary: TíPol and Hoshi meet up years after leaving Enterprise
Spoilers: None

SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE

"Did you hear?"

Professor Sato looked up from todayís outline into the face of her excited student. "Hear what?"

"Theyíve announced where the Presidentís speech is going to be," the girl exclaimed.

Hoshi waited patiently for her to continue.

"Here!" She pointed at the floor.

"Here? At USF?" Hoshi was stunned. The University of San Francisco was a pleasant, intimate campus, not one of the larger or, frankly, more prestigious schools. No United Federation of Planets president had ever visited the university, let alone given a speech there to be broadcast throughout earth and all other members of the United Federation of Planets.

For security reasons, the site of the speech had been kept under wraps until the day before the event, but most observers assumed that, if it were on earth, it would be in New York City or Geneva. At USF? For just an instant, Hoshi wondered: Could it be . . . She rolled her eyes. Donít be silly.

"Thatís amazing," she agreed. "Did you hear anything about who gets to attend?"

"I think thereís some kind of drawing or something," the girl bubbled. "Itís by department."

Hoshi smiled; funny how words like "drawing" continued to be part of the vocabulary long after they had outlasted their original meaning. But if Marisa was correct, she needed to move quickly to submit a request on behalf of her department. The odds werenít good, of course; every other department had probably already applied, but she had to try. She couldnít pass this up, not after all these years.

* * * * *

Hoshi gestured for her students to follow the security officers. Trailing behind them, she glanced up at the stage, but of course no one was there yet. Try a little maturity, she told herself; you are a grown woman. She slid into the aisle seat, pleasantly surprised; these were terrific seats. They had passed a number of diplomatic types who undoubtedly would like to have exchanged places with her young charges, but Hoshi had no intention of extending the courtesy. One of the perqs of working for the host, she figured.

Nearly an hour later, Bill Glover, president of the university, stepped out onto the stage, followed by two men and two women who Hoshi suspected were security officers, and then Ė her. As dignified and impressive as ever. Hoshi was mesmerized. If possible, the Vulcan was even more beautiful than when they had met fourteen years earlier.

There were sounds uttering from Billís mouth, Hoshi was vaguely aware, but all of her senses were focused on the magnificent woman seated to his left. Now, TíPol was rising, and gliding, it seemed, to the podium.

"I thank President Glover for that favorable, if misleading, introduction," she began, and Hoshi joined in the laughter. Humor, TíPol? Guess some of those human traits did rub off on you.

"I am gratified for the opportunity to discuss the peace accord reached last month in the Anterian sector," TíPol continued. "That achievement, of course, was due to the good will and selflessness of each of the eleven world representatives . . . ."

As TíPol acknowledged by name each of the presidents or consulates or premiers of those barbaric regions, actually managing to make them sound civilized, Hoshi concentrated on the other womanís face. Everyone knew that those planets had been at war for hundreds of years; how TíPol even got them into the same room without killing each other was the subject of much speculation.

"I began the negotiations by recounting an event which I had never disclosed before." TíPolís words regained Hoshiís attention. "Some of you may know that, for several years, I served on the Federation starship Enterprise under Captain Jonathan Archer. My interaction with humans had been somewhat limited, and during one away mission, I was paired with a young ensign who, I soon learned, did not seem in the least intimidated by my superior rank."

TíPol paused, and Hoshi waited. Would this be a story sheíd heard before?

"We initially landed in a thriving metropolitan area, with rather pleasing landscape and weather. After completing trade discussions, however, our shuttle experienced a power failure during an electrical storm, and we crash landed a few hundred kilometers away. Due to the atmospheric conditions and damage to our equipment, we were unable to communicate with Enterprise to inform them that we had concluded our business and were now stranded."

Oh, my God . . . Hoshi remembered it well.

"The weather in this area was . . . rather unique," TíPol continued, with what Hoshi recognized as something close to a smile. "At times, it was so warm that the ensign and I were compelled to remove most of our attire. At other times, the temperature would drop without warning, and we struggled to generate sufficient heat to survive."

Hoshi grinned. She remembered both with equal pleasure: Watching TíPol stroll around with nothing on but thin undergarments, and huddling together with the Vulcan under shared blankets.

"As we walked to the nearest populated area, my talkative companion became preoccupied with speculating as to why the outlying colonists did not move to the more pleasant environs relatively near by."

Hoshi smiled at the gibe. As she recalled, TíPol had eventually chimed in with a few guesses of her own.

"After a three-day trek, the ensign and I arrived at a colony, and were able to communicate with our ship. While awaiting a shuttle from Enterprise, the ensign could not resist asking the premier why they did not move to the main colony. His reply was rather enlightening." TíPol paused. "ĎWhy would we?í"

"Why would we?" Hoshi said softly at the same time.

"That experience illustrated two principles essential to negotiation." TíPol moved into the main topic of her presentation. "First, it is arrogant to assume that others share our same priorities and perceptions. The colonists might have been perfectly content with what we found rather distressing circumstances. Second, the status quo may at times reflect tradition more than a conscious decision. Perhaps the two colonies had been settled by unrelated factions who were unaware of each other at the time. Learning which principles might explain the colonyís location would have required exploration of cultural perspectives. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to do so during our visit, but that process of understanding formed the basis of our recent negotiations at Anteria."

Hoshi was mesmerized. Knowing that TíPol remembered her, was talking about her, pleased her more than it should have. Oh, what the hell Ė attention from the subcommander had always been a thrill. Hoshi had no problem admitting it to herself. Why should it be different just because she was now a tenured professor? After all, TíPolís remarkable rise to power after her return from Enterprise had just made the woman even more alluring.

Too soon for Hoshi, the speech was over, a brief nod the only acknowledgment of the crowdís applause. Suddenly, the urgency for Hoshi became finding a way to see TíPol again before she left. Surely she knew that Hoshi was at USF now; even if the site had been a coincidence, wouldnít her staff have told her? Would she have time to see her? Would she care enough?

Hoshi searched the stage for the university president. Glover could get word to TíPol. It might be embarrassing if she declined, but Hoshi was past caring about that. Besides, TíPol could be counted on to be polite, or at least she could nine years ago when they all parted ways. She would likely spare Hoshi a few words.

She felt a slight touch on her shoulder. "Professor Sato?" She turned slightly, looking into the expressionless face of an undercover security officer if ever sheíd seen one.

"Yes?"

"President TíPol requests that you join her party for dinner, if you can spare the time."

Yes! "Iíd love to! Where should I meet you?"

Hoshi listened carefully to the instructions, and calculated that she had plenty of time to go home and change into something a little less professorial.

* * * * *

Waiting in the expensively decked out lobby, Hoshi watched idly as the guests behind her went through the security checks. Most of them probably had no idea why they were undergoing such a thorough scan just to enter their exclusive hotel. She glanced around, wondering who else might be joining them. Glover for one, probably; it wasnít like the university president to pass up a schmoozing opportunity of this magnitude.

"Hoshi."

At the familiar murmur of her name, Hoshi whirled around. "TíPol!" She couldnít help it; she took two quick steps and threw her arms around her former commander.

Two security officers immediately stepped forward Ė no one was allowed to touch the President (and, in fact, they had never seen anyone try) Ė but TíPol held them off with a slight shake of her head. She placed her hands lightly on the other womanís waist until the hug ended.

"Iím sorry," Hoshi said, backing away. "Iím just glad to see you after all these years. I wasnít sure youíd remember me." She smiled shyly, realizing that she was babbling a bit.

"I am surprised to hear that," said TíPol, and she was. She remembered the wry young ensign quite well, and the mature professor was even more impressive. "Surely you have not forgotten our experiences aboard Enterprise."

Hoshi laughed. "Hardly."

"Ah, Madame President!" Bill Glover thrust out a hand but, when TíPol merely raised an eyebrow, quickly withdrew it. He had forgotten her staffís instructions. He then noticed the woman standing next to her. "Hoshi? What are you doing here?"

"Professor Sato and I are old acquaintances," TíPol replied for her. "I hope to renew our relationship over dinner."

Sounded good to Hoshi. TíPol followed with a few introductions: Maíacr, her long-time security manager; Trrai, his second in command; Wilson, her top civil aide; and Brith, her something or other. They had all been with TíPol for her entire six years in federation government. No surprise there, Hoshi figured; who wouldnít want to be at the side of such a charismatic leader? Their small group would be meeting the ambassador from Earth and some of his staffers at the restaurant, apparently.

Normally, Hoshi would have been delighted with such prestigious company, but tonight she cared only about one person. She hoped that TíPolís earlier words meant they would be seated together, but she doubted it with such high-profile guests wanting the presidentís ear. Her suspicions were reinforced when the two women were separated in the crafts that guided them to the restaurant. Still, the security chief proved to be a pleasant conversationalist.

In the restaurant lobby, Hoshi milled with TíPol and Maíacr while security again swept the area and everyone in it. She desperately wanted to talk with TíPol, but now didnít seem the best time.

"Do you wish to be escorted now, or wait until the rest of your party arrives?" an officious maitre de breathed at TíPol.

"We will wait here," Maíacr replied, and the stranger bowed and departed.

Watching him stride away, Hoshi couldnít resist asking, "Have you had problems with the Tarmalians?"

Maíacr was surprised to hear the President answer without reservation. "Three years ago, the Federation imposed sanctions on Tarmali for aggressiveness toward a neighboring planet," TíPol said. "How are you aware of that?" The negotiations, and the discipline itself, had been largely confidential.

Hoshi jerked her head toward the departed restaurant official. "He hates you."

TíPol raised an eyebrow, which Hoshi recognized as a request for elaboration.

"His breathing," she explained. "Normally, Tarmalians breath in twice and out once, but when theyíre angry, itís reversed: Out out in. I wouldnít worry too much about tipping him."

"President." The nervous speaker was from the earth representativeís staff, Hoshi recalled. "I apologize again for the ambassadorís delay. It was unavoidable."

TíPol held up a hand to forestall whatever else he was going to say. She was in no hurry for the blustery ambassador to intrude upon their amiable group. Perhaps she and Hoshi could find some place to speak privately until everyone had gathered . . . .

"You know, your Dshic is really remarkable." Her attention returned to Hoshi, who was complimenting her security chief. "Itís the best Iíve ever heard."

Maíacr looked at her. "I am a native of Dsh," he said. "It is not a second language."

"Really?"

TíPol listened with mild interest. Maíacr had been born and raised in Dsh; his background had of course had checked quite thoroughly before he joined her staff.

"Wow." Hoshi shook her head. "I would have sworn . . . ." She smiled, willing to admit when she was wrong, but wanting to satisfy her curiosity. "Can you do the rrrch?" She demonstrated the sound.

Dismayed, Maíacr looked at the President, but she seemed amused by it all. He sighed, a bit dramatically. "Rrrch," he repeated. It was identical to Hoshiís.

"See?" Hoshi said. "Thatís what I mean. You canít do it either." She turned to TíPol. "You have to be born on Dsh to make the sound without the squeak. Itís an atmospheric adaptation to the throat that occurs at birth." She spoke again to the officer. "You must have been born while your parents were off world."

Maíacr did not hide his irritation. "Iím afraid you are inexperienced with Dshic dialect," he replied. "It is not a surprising mistake for an earth-bound linguist to make."

TíPol studied him. Maíacr was a long-trusted aide who had been diligent in securing her safety over the years. He had proved beyond doubt that he was born in the province of Brnd on Dsh. But Hoshi Sato was the most gifted linguist TíPol had ever encountered. She had trusted Hoshi with her life many times on Enterprise, and she was about to do so again.

"Maíacr," TíPol said quietly. "Give me your weapon."

Hoshi looked at her in surprise. She hadnít meant to cause a stir.

The security officer stared at his superior, clearly stunned.

"Simply until we verify the information," TíPol added.

Maíacr suddenly drew his phaser, aiming first at the other three security officers, then at TíPol. The blast hit her directly in the chest, and she crumpled.

Hoshi reacted instinctively. She reached down and grabbed a phaser from an unconscious security officer, then spun around and fired repeatedly in Maíacrís general direction. Whether by instinct or design, she hit her target, and the security director went flying onto his back. Scrambling over to TíPolís prone body, she grasped the phaser with one hand while checking for signs of life with the other. She heard a noise, someone running toward them, and lay her body across TíPolís.

"Step away from her." The voice was Trraiís, and Hoshi looked up at a phaser pointed directly at her.

"He shot her!" Hoshi said frantically. "Get a doctor!"

Trrai didnít move, and it took Hoshi a moment to realize what he was thinking. Oh, shit. Surrounded by dead or stunned security officers, and TíPol Ė who knew how badly she was hurt. Hoshi carefully laid the phaser on the ground and then, hoping they wouldnít shoot her, turned her attention back to the President. She was still alive, thank God. Maíacr had been forced to shoot quickly, and apparently kept his phaser on stun.

Someone joined Hoshi at TíPolís side, and she was relieved to see that it was a doctor. Trrai took her arm and forcefully pulled her away. Hoshi shook off his hand, and watched the physician work on the fallen president.

Security arrived in droves, and curious onlookers were herded away while Trrai began his interrogation of Hoshi, who glanced over at the several doctors now blocking her view of TíPol.

"I keep telling you, I donít know why he did it," she repeated with some irritation. "All I said was that he must not have been born on Dsh, and the next thing I know, he starts shooting. How is she?"

Trrai had no intention of answering. The President had spoken favorably of Sato, and had chosen to speak at the University of San Francisco because the linguist taught there, but their acquaintance had been nearly a decade ago, a lifetime by espionage standards.

"Is she awake?"

Again, Trrai did not respond, but TíPol did. Rousing to consciousness, she looked up at the worried Terrans looming over her. The professor was not among them. "Hoshi?" she asked. She cleared her voice. "Where is Hoshi Sato?" she said, her voice a bit stronger.

The senior physician turned to Trrai. "She is asking about a Hoshi Sato?"

Hoshi started for her, but Trrai grabbed her arm. TíPol could be asking for Sato, or naming her as the assassin. With the professorís arm in hand, he walked her over to where his President lay.

"Are you all right?" TíPol asked her.

Hoshi glared pointedly at Trrai, and he withdrew his grip, allowing the woman to drop to her knees. "Hey," she said softly. "I suppose youíre going to use this as an excuse to get out of buying me dinner."

"There might be a slight delay," TíPol acknowledged wryly. "But do not underestimate federation resourcefulness."

* * * * *

"To Enterprise." Hoshi held up her glass of wine. TíPol had been around Terrans enough to know what was expected, and met Hoshiís toast with her own glass of water.

The two were alone in TíPolís hotel suite, and, Hoshi had to admit, the evening had worked out much better than a stuffy dinner surrounded by politicians and a pompous university president would have. Once she had overcome her guilt at sparking the attack with her innocent comments, Hoshi was delighted. The dinner had been delicious, and the company . . . exquisite.

Over the past few hours, they had reminisced about their five years together on Enterprise, caught up on most of their colleaguesí whereabouts, and shared stories of their lives and achievements since then. TíPol had, of course, volunteered less information about her own remarkable accomplishments, but the professor could read between the lines. There was only one thing they hadnít talked about, and Hoshi decided she couldnít live with that.

"With a schedule like that, it sounds kind of lonely," she ventured.

"Loneliness is an emotion," TíPol replied, as if that were the end of the discussion. To her, it probably was.

Hoshi wanted to groan. She should have seen that one coming. Looks like itís twenty questions, she thought. Or maybe just one. Just be a woman and come out with it, Hoshi.

"Have you ever married, TíPol?" she asked bluntly.

TíPol looked at her. "No," she replied. "And you?"

For some reason, Hoshi was surprised at the question. "No."

Now TíPol was the inquisitor. "And are you lonely?"

"Um . . ." Why would TíPol ask something like that? "Not really. I like my job, and it keeps me busy."

"Do you have a steady companion?"

"No," she answered truthfully. "Not steady."

"I was surprised to learn that you did not end up with one of the crew from Enterprise," TíPol continued.

"From Enterprise? Why would you think that?"

"A significant number of the crew found you attractive," she said.

"What?" Hoshi was shocked, not so much at the words but who was saying them. "How do you know that?"

"I have superior hearing," the Vulcan replied calmly. "I overheard many such remarks."

"And how many did you hear about yourself?" Silence followed, and Hoshi laughed. "I thought so. Everyone thought you were unbelievably sexy."

TíPolís next question again surprised Hoshi. "Everyone?"

Hoshi wasnít sure exactly what she was asking. "Well, everyone I knew, anyway. They all had it for you."

"And did you Ďhave ití for anyone?"

Hoshi was conscious of the growing silence. "Maybe," she said finally. "But I donít think you want to hear about that."

"On the contrary. I would very much like to hear about it."

"It doesnít matter; it was in the past. You know, I was young, I still got crushes."

"Please tell me."

Hoshi had never heard such an entreaty from TíPolís lips, and she couldnít refuse it. So what if she was humiliated? TíPol wasnít the kind to rub it in. Still, she wanted a little more distance between them than three feet of couch. She rose and walked over to the kitchen counter, pouring herself some more wine. "Well, if you must know, I had a crush on you." She took a sip, delaying her return to the couch and the look that was probably on TíPolís face.

"I found you appealing as well."

Hoshi froze. "You did? Youíre kidding."

"I do not Ďkid,í as you know," the Vulcan replied. "I did not consider the attraction logical considering our positions, but I did find you . . . intriguing."

"I wish Iíd known that then." Hoshi left the rest unsaid: because I would have . . .

"That would not have been advisable," TíPol said.

"I suppose." She thought about it, and made a decision. "What about now?"

"Now?"

"Do you ever . . . have companionship?"

"I assume you are referring to sexual companionship."

"Yes." Hoshiís back was still turned toward the couch.

After a moment, she heard TíPolís voice close behind her. "Your appeal has only been enhanced by the passage of time."

That wasnít exactly answering her question, but it sent Hoshiís heart fluttering. She turned slowly, and her arms eased around TíPolís neck. What the hell. "Letís go to bed."

* * * * *

With a soft groan, TíPol slid off Hoshi onto the bed beside her.

"Wow," Hoshi muttered. "That was . . . God . . . TíPol . . . I donít know what to say."

"Professor Satoís noted linguistic skills have deteriorated over the years, I see."

Hoshi smiled, and rolled on top of her. "Oh, I donít know. You know what they say about linguists . . ." Growling her intentions in Vulcan, she began working her lips down TíPolís body.

* * * * *

Hoshi woke after only a few hoursí sleep, and wasnít surprised to find the space beside her empty. After a luxurious stretch, she slipped into the robe that TíPol had thoughtfully laid out on a chair.

The suite had several rooms, but she headed for the noise she heard in the kitchen. There, she spied TíPol holding a container of something in each hand. Hoshi edged up behind her, and slid her arms around the other womanís waist. "Mmm," she said into TíPolís neck. "I donít have to leave for a while. Why donít you come back to bed, and Iíll give you another linguistics lesson?"

A noise to her left alerted Hoshi to the fact that they werenít alone. Great. Could it be any more embarrassing? She acknowledged the two men she now standing in the dining area. "Trrai." She didnít know the other.

Trrai hid his surprise well. In his six years with the President, she had not entertained a guest in this manner. His intelligence on the Sato woman had been inadequate; he had no idea the two women were intimate acquaintances.

TíPol didnít seem to be bothered by what the men had witnessed, Hoshi noticed, but then she rarely seemed bothered by anything. Now, hot and bothered, maybe; Hoshiíd had the pleasure Ė several times Ė of experiencing that last night.

For the next hour, Hoshi nursed a hot tea while TíPol discussed upcoming plans with Trrai and, she had learned, the Trackan who was her diplomatic liaison to the planet they were to visit next.

"Can you join us today?" TíPol asked when the planning session ended.

Hoshi shook her head regretfully. "I have class this morning. Will you be around this afternoon?"

"Possibly," TíPol replied, to Trraiís surprise. They were scheduled to leave Earth before midday.

Hoshi rose. "Well, Iíve got to get around." TíPol followed her to the master bedroom and watched Hoshi slip into her clothes from the day before. If the professor hurried, she would have just enough time to stop at her apartment for a quick shower and clothing change before class.

But first . . . She stepped close to her former commander. "Do you have a girl in every port, TíPol?" she asked.

"Iím sorry?"

"Nothing; an old earth expression. It doesnít matter." She leaned over and kissed TíPol. "Thank you. Last night was wonderful."

"Quite."

After her friendís departure, TíPol found her attention wandering. "I wish to meditate," she told Trrai, and the two men bowed and took their leave.

TíPol turned her thoughts inward for a while, then uttered a command. "Computer, explain the Terran phrase, Ďgirl in every port.í" She listened as the computer complied. "Computer, show last nightís assassination attempt." She watched as the action unfolded, then spoke again. "Freeze replay." There it was again: Hoshi leaning over her, shielding her body when she thought another assassin was approaching.

* * * * *

Hurrying into her classroom Ė this was the first time sheíd ever been late, but at least it was only three minutes Ė the teacher was greeted with thunderous applause and whistles.

"Nice save, Professor," Marisa yelled from the third row.

"What are you talking about?"

"Itís all over the news: ĎProf saves life of UFP President,í" replied a young man seated near the podium.

"Oh, great," Hoshi groaned. "Iím sure theyíre blowing it out of proportion."

"No way Ė check it out." The student passed her a handheld, and she watched the events unfold from the restaurantís security monitors. God, it was so close. If TíPol hadnít insisted that her security officers keep their phasers on stun . . . .

She quickly handed it back. "OK, enough of that. ĎRight place, right time,í and all that. Letís talk about Klingon grammar."

* * *

"President, please reconsider." Trrai asked for the third time. "We should ask Professor Sato to join us in a more secure area."

"I wish to do this," TíPol said. She nearly added, Do not question me again, but did not want to sound petulant.

The source of his dismay was the blatantly exposed hallway of the University of San Francisco, protected by only a dozen guards who, though ordered to dress informally, stood out quite plainly for what they were. Trrai hated to see the president exposed to risk again so soon after last nightís close call. He hadnít seen that one coming, and that was something he planned to make up for.

The group slowed, and he assumed they had arrived at Classroom 47. A lead guard opened the door, and security officers swept in, followed by TíPol.

The interruption startled Hoshi, who watched as several strangers fanned out inside the doorway, and then--

As one, the class turned to see what their professor was staring at, and a rumble began immediately. The President . . .

Behind two of her guard, TíPol made her way down to Hoshi. "I apologize for interrupting your lecture, Professor Sato," she said.

"No problem. Looking for a linguistics lesson?" It was a little bold considering that two hundred students were gaping at them, but it was impossible to ignore last nightís passion when its object was standing only a few feet from her.

"There is no one else from whom I would seek such a lesson," TíPol replied, then addressed the class. "Professor Satoís linguistic skills came in quite useful last night."

Looks like Iím not the only one who likes to do a little teasing, Hoshi decided.

"But perhaps your students would prefer to hear tales of our exploits on Enterprise," the Vulcan continued.

A general murmur from the students indicated that, hell yes, theyíd like to hear about Enterprise. Hoshi had told a few stories, but usually just to illustrate some first-contact principle. Nothing really juicy.

"Um, I donít think thatís a good idea," Hoshi said nervously. She didnít entirely trust TíPol, who seemed to be in a frisky mood.

* * * * *

A head appeared in Professor Thuittís classroom. "Troy? Where is everyone?"

"Hell if I know." Thuitt waved a hand, indicating row upon row of empty seats. "Iíll be back," he announced, hoping not to lose the six students who had actually shown up for his class.

It wasnít a hard trail to follow. He watched the last of a group of students undergo a security scan, then squeeze into Hoshi Satoís classroom. Thuittís curiosity overcame him, and he approached the security guards, raising his arms as the scanning process began. A moment later, he stepped into a classroom that was now literally standing room only, students and staff from throughout the university lined up along the walls.

"Unfortunately, as we explored the vessel, Ensign Sato and I entered a room which contained a dozen mutilated corpses."

Holy shit! Thuitt quickly realized who was speaking. Thatís . . .

"The bodies were hanging upside down on large hooks." She looked at Hoshi. "Ensign Sato was rather . . . distressed . . . at the sight."

The translator reddened. She remembered screaming her head off, all right Ė and also remembered TíPol calming her with a touch from her sensual hands. "It was pretty horrible," Hoshi admitted. "I might have said a few things."

"Most of which were not found in official Federation databases," TíPol quipped. "Nonetheless, the ensign recovered her poise -- eventually -- and made first contact with an alien species who lent assistance." TíPol looked fondly at Hoshi. "Not long afterward, we were trapped aboard a Klingon ship that was badly damaged, and had begun entering the planetary atmosphere. Under such extraordinary circumstances, Professor Sato was able to achieve a translation of the written Klingon language, allowing us to use the shipís weaponry to escape."

Spying several of her colleagues now standing inside the doorway, Hoshi realized that her class had run over. "Well." She made a point of checking her chronometer. "We have gone way too long. Youíre all outta here." She held up her hands apologetically to Troy Thuitt, mouthing "Sorry" to him. He gave her a thumbs up, impressed as hell; he just wished heíd gotten here earlier.

TíPol turned to Hoshi. "May I speak with you privately?"

"Of course." They drew away from the others.

"I would like you to come with me," TíPol said without preamble.

"What?" Hoshi was caught by surprise. "You want me to come with you?"

She nodded.

"Come with you as your . . .?"

"My translator. My companion."

"You already have translators."

"True," the Vulcan conceded. "But none as skilled."

"Well, I donít believe that, but thanks for the sentiment."

"Sentiment is an emotion."

Hoshi rolled her eyes. "Whatever." Her gaze swept across the classroom. "What about my teaching?"

"I recognize that I am asking you to postpone your career. After my term ends, you will undoubtedly be asked back, or to another university if you like."

That was probably true. The foremost expert on language and translation in the United States received job offers on a regular basis, and, although she had never been tempted to leave San Francisco, it was nice to know that she had options.

"What exactly do you see me doing?" she asked.

"Accompanying me on my travels, translating as needed, advising me."

"Advising you? And how would that go over with your cabinet?"

"No official is without influence from her closest companion. Your judgment is sound. Your loyalties are unquestioned."

Hoshi laughed. "Not that Iím disagreeing, but how do you even know that? We havenít seen each other in ten years."

"I have followed your career." That was a surprise. "We were close associates on Enterprise," TíPol continued. "I am quite confident in my assessments."

"Like you were with Maíacr?" Hoshi regretted the words instantly. "Iím sorry."

"There is no need to apologize. I acknowledge the error with Maíacr. But I would also point out that the mistake was revealed due to your talent. Had it not been for you, Maíacr would likely have continued spying for the Lakarens for many years."

Hoshi remained silent for a moment, then frowned. "When would I have to decide?"

TíPol glanced at Trrai, whose body language plainly conveyed impatience. They were already late, she knew. "We are scheduled to leave immediately."

"Youíre kidding!"

"Iím sorry."

She met TíPolís gaze. "What if we donít like each other? I mean, it has been ten years."

"We Ďlikedí each other a great deal last night," TíPol remarked.

The response, a bit frivolous for TíPol, was met with a smirk. "I mean, apart from that." But Hoshi had to admit, the thought of going to bed with the gorgeous Vulcan every night had undeniable appeal. Gripping those biceps . . .

"If you are unhappy at any time, I will arrange for your immediate return home."

"Or if youíre unhappy," Hoshi insisted.

"Happiness isĖ"

"An emotion," Hoshi finished. "I hope Iím not going to hear that all the time."

TíPol wasnít sure what to say. She did not want to risk offending Hoshi, who relented with a smile.

"OK, Iíll rephrase it. If you donít think itís working out, youíll tell me, right?"

"Of course." TíPol didnít mind offering that assurance. She was certain it would work out.

Hoshi could feel a sense of excitement setting in. "I would need to talk to Bill Glover," she muttered, still trying to run through all the reasons this was a bad idea.

"I will send a communiquť from the ship," TíPol offered.

"Well, thanks, but I think thatís something I should do."

"As you wish."

Hoshi shook her head, not fully believing what she was about to do. "OK," she said simply.

TíPol nodded. "Iím pleased."

"Can we stop by my house and get my things?"

"Of course."

The pair joined Trrai at the doorway and began walking down the hall, ignoring the students and faculty still milling outside the classroom. Another thought occurred to Hoshi. "So, are we going to be Ė will anyone know about our personal relationship?" It was understandable if the Vulcan wanted to maintain her privacy.

By way of answer, TíPol leaned over and kissed her. "I am proud to have you by my side in all things."

Hoshi smiled. "Pride is an emotion," she teased.

"Indeed." They began walking again. "With you, I shall no doubt become an emotional wreck." TíPolís enjoyed her companionís laugh, and together they resumed their journey.

###

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