trekwriter151: (toshiko)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Title: Familiar Strangers

Characters: Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker the Third (Enterprise) and Toshiko Sato (Torchwood), written for the "A Ficathon Walks into a Bar" challenge on LJ.

Summary: Trip meets a woman in a bar who seems very familiar, but he can't figure out why. T'Pol, Malcolm Reed and Hoshi Sato are mentioned. The TW team makes a cameo.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em. Torchwood belongs to RTD and the BBC. Star Trek Enterprise belongs to MGM/Paramount.

Pairings: Trip/T'Pol, Malcolm/Hoshi Sato (ENT), Tosh/Owen, Jack/Ianto (TW)

Word count: about 3350 wds.

Rating: PG/T

Notes: I hope I did a decent job with this. For some reason, this was kinda like pulling teeth, but I enjoyed writing it.


Familiar Strangers


Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker the Third sat back at the bar on Telemachus Station and looked out the large duraglass window. He whistled low at the amazing sight of a colorful rainbow among the stars. The golds, scarlets and blues shifted like a radiant prism of light. Now isn't that the prettiest sight. Don't think I've seen anythin' like it.

Apparently, no one else in this sector hadn't seen it either, except the denizens of Telemachus Station. Commander T'Pol and her astrometrics department had ruled out a nebula, or a pulsar, or even leftover stellar gases from some sort of cosmic accident. T'Pol was at a complete loss to explain just what it was. She elected to stay on Enterprise and unravel the mystery, instead of taking shore leave on Telemachus Station with the rest of the crew.

She could have asked the people of the Station, but they evaded any questions with finesse. Even Trip's attempts at subtlety were met with firm but polite refusals. Finally, he decided to just leave things be, and simply enjoy the view.

He sipped at his glass of Andorian ale as he surveyed the crowd. It was still early, but the place was filling up quickly. The Station boasted several bars, but this particular one came highly recommended. “The Hub” lived up to its namesake; there were many different species Trip had never seen before, of all colors, shapes and sizes. It reminded him of the Star Wars cantina, without the band.

There was one man who definitely seemed out of place. He reminded Trip of someone's butler: impeccably groomed, dressed in a suit and perfectly knotted tie. The Butler (as Trip dubbed him in his mind) said something to his surly-looking companion. Surly Guy muttered a reply, then he scowled at the glowing light beyond the window.

Someone needs to lighten up a bit, Trip thought. Like a certain Armory officer I know.

The bartender finished serving the latest round of customers. He grinned at Trip and asked, “You doing OK, Commander?”

“Yeah, I'm good. And it's Trip. I'm off-duty.” He paused for a second. “How'd you know---”

“---that you're Starfleet? We get a lot of your ships here at the Station.” The bartender gave him a sympathetic smile. “And sorry for saying it, but the crew of the Enterprise is relatively well known, especially after last year.”

Trip winced at the mention of the crew's time in the Expanse after the Xindi attack on Earth. “Yeah, I guess it's sorta hard to hide after all that.”

“Don't worry. If there's one rule at The Hub, it's that everyone's equal and everyone's friends.” The bartender inclined his head in the direction of the Butler and Surly Guy; the tone of his voice made the unspoken command quite clear, Don't be causing trouble. “Looks like it's gonna be a busy night. Those are the best kinds.”

“Really?” Trip nodded at the growing clientele at the bar.

The bartender nodded and replied, “You get to meet all sorts of people and maybe even a couple of new friends. That's why I enjoy my job.” He topped off Trip's Andorian ale without being asked, then said, “My name's Blaine. You need anything, just ask for me.”

“Thanks.” He sighed and thought, Great. Just great.

Trip reviewed the night's agenda in his head. Malcolm Reed was due on the station in a few hours; he claimed he needed to make some adjustments to the targeting sensors in the Armory. Adjustments, yeah right. I bet those adjustments also involved finding a birthday gift for a certain Communications Officer...

Then a soft voice caught his attention. “Pardon me, Blaine, but has he come by? He told me to meet him here, at this bar."

Blaine winked at the speaker. “You mean the tall, good-looking man in the military outfit?”

Military outfit? Trip's ears perked up at the words. He glanced at the woman out of the corner of his eye. She was a tiny thing, with shoulder-length dark hair and large, almond-shaped brown eyes. Black leather jacket, rose-colored blouse and dark blue slacks, and shoes with a low heel. Her glasses gave her a scholarly look. The way she spoke, the way she moved...it reminded him of someone.

Someone very familiar.

“Yes,” she replied, with the slightest hint of affectionate sarcasm.

“He saw a present in a shop on Blue Level that would be perfect for...Janto? Shando? Someone like that.”

The woman chuckled and slid into the stool a few meters away from Trip. “Once Jack gets it in his head to get something, he usually does it without delay. I'll just wait here until he comes back, then.”

The bartender smiled and indicated the impressive array of liquor bottles arranged in a line behind him. “Do you want anything to drink?”

“Just water for now. I might want something else later. Thank you, Blaine.”

“Not a problem, Tosh. Always here to serve a customer, no matter where she comes from or what species she is.” He poured her a glass of water. “Found what you needed?”

“Yes, we'll be going home soon.” Tosh sighed and shook her head. “I actually enjoyed my stay here for once. So many wonders!”

Blaine nodded sagely. “True, true. I, for one, wish you can stay longer, but I know the nature of your job. Need anything else, flag me down.”

“I will. Thank you.”

Trip watched her out of the corner of his eye. The Butler and Surly Guy had both noticed her arrival, especially Surly Guy. He wondered if they knew her, and if they did, why didn't they acknowledge each other? It just didn't make sense.

You've been hanging around Malcolm too long. He's gotten you paranoid. Trip's gaze kept drifting towards the woman. Despite her calm, quiet confidence, she struck him as being vulnerable, for some reason. His better judgment told him to keep quiet and watch her, like Malcolm would have done, but his mouth opened before his brain kicked into gear.

“You're British?”

The woman started in surprise and looked at him with large, doe-brown eyes. She blinked, then laughed a little, and again, he was struck with a sense of deja vu. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

Trip smiled at the polite tone. Yup, just like Malcolm. “You talk like a friend of mine who's from the UK.”

She chuckled and inclined her head, as if considering him. “Ah, and you're American?”

“Yeah. Florida, specifically.” He grinned and added, “Lemme guess. I sound like a friend of yours.”

“Not exactly...but yes, in a similar way.”

He extended a hand. “I'm Trip. Pleased to meet you.”

She placed her tiny hand within his. “Toshiko. My friends call me Tosh.”

Oh, that really got Surly Guy's attention. He was about to get to his feet, but the Butler put a hand on his arm and firmly pulled him back down. A heated conversation ensued, then Surly Guy sat back with a scowl. It didn't improve his looks, though Trip thought that he might look decent if he smiled.

He brought his attention back to the woman. Toshiko. “Japanese ancestry?” Trip's tone was casual, but the eerie similarity to two of his best friends was almost a bit too eerie. British, like Malcolm; Japanese, like Hoshi.

“Yes, my ancestors are from Japan.” She managed a smile. “Forgive me for asking, but you said your name was 'Trip'? That's an unusual name.”

He laughed at the familiar reaction. “It's Charles, actually. The whole thing is Charles Tucker the Third, but friends call me 'Trip'. It's short for 'triple'.”

Tosh's eyes sparkled with amusement as she said, “Because you're the third man to carry the family name. I understand. It's a pleasure to meet you too, Trip. Are you also waiting for someone?”

“Yeah, the British friend I mentioned earlier. He claimed he had work to finish up on our ship, but I think he's runnin' around the station tryin' to find a gift for another friend of ours. It's her birthday.”

Her mouth turned up at the corners. Tosh had a nice smile, but Trip wondered how often she actually smiled. “It seems that he and Jack have the same goal in mind.”

“Jack?”

“The American friend I mentioned earlier.” She studied him for a moment, then added,“Captain Jack Harkness.”

“Captain, huh?” The name didn't sound familiar at all, and Trip knew many people in Starfleet. “Commanding a ship?”

Tosh shook her head. “No, not a seafaring vessel. He's in charge of the team I work for.”

Trip blinked, blinked again. Covert ops? Tosh didn't look like someone who worked in covert ops. Then again, he hadn't known Malcolm had done it until a crisis of interstellar proportions forced Malcolm to reveal his secret. Maybe he should keep her talking and find out more about her. The Butler and Surly Guy still watched them from their table; Butler looked more interested in their conversation.

“Gotcha.” Trip realized he still held Tosh's hand and let it go. “It's weird...I feel like I should know you, but I don't.”

She gave him a curious look, as if she was deciding whether or not he was serious. The glow of the rainbow just outside their window caught her attention. She sipped at her water and gazed out at it. “I've never seen it this way. So beautiful, yet so deadly at the same time.”

“Deadly?”

Tosh shook her head with that little smile. “Ah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you. You see, I've been studying phenomena like that for some time now.”

“You're a scientist, then?” Trip asked. Yeah, it definitely fit her. That dignified response sounded like T'Pol, speaking with Malcolm's voice. A British Vulcan. If she and this military guy---Jack---worked on a scientific team, then perhaps T'Pol knew them. He'd have to remember to ask her.

“In a matter of speaking.” Another look of wariness crossed her face, then she added, “My team deals with things---”she waved a hand in the direction of the cloud, “---that are difficult to explain.”

Trip frowned and followed her gaze. For some reason, he remembered the anomalies the Enterprise had experienced in the Expanse, and he shivered. “Y'think that's gonna be a problem?”

Tosh shook her head. “Not for long. The readings I've taken of it indicate it's shrinking and should disappear in a matter of days.”

He stared at the rainbow just on the other side of the duraglass. “What is that?”

She gave him another wary look, as if she realized she said too much.“It's complicated.”

He laughed and shrugged, “I can handle complicated. I'm an engineer and one of my crew mates is a Vulcan. Try me.”

She nodded distractedly, then she launched into some scientific jargon. He was immediately lost, but he just acted as if he knew exactly what she was talking about. Somehow, he doubted that even T'Pol would understand it. Basically, it amounted to some kind of space-time rift in space that appeared in multiple universes, and she believed it was a doorway that led to all sorts of places. At least, that was it sounded like, boiled down to the very basics.

“Different universes? Different times, you mean?” Trip chuckled and sat back on his stool. “If I heard you talk like that four or so years ago, I'd say you were nuts. T'Pol used to say---” and here, he copied T'Pol's deadpan delivery, “'The Vulcan Science Directorate dictates that time travel is impossible.'”

Tosh snorted delicately, and Surly Guy muttered something to the Butler, who only rolled his eyes in response. Trip held up a hand and said, “Yeah, I know, I know. But I've seen enough weird stuff and experienced enough strange things that the idea doesn't really faze me.”

His statement sparked more interest on her part, and her companions tried to eavesdrop without looking like they were doing it. “What kind of 'weird stuff' have you experienced?”

He shrugged. “Where do want me to start?”

“Wherever you like.”

Trip talked about some of the places Enterprise had visited: Risa (though he skipped the part about he and Malcolm being mugged and tied up in a basement wearing nothing but their underwear), Kretassia (ditto the part where Captain Archer had to placate the locals because his beagle made an unauthorized pit stop on a sacred tree), and Vulcan (ditto the time Surak's soul-his katra-ended up in Archer's head).

Then he told her about being in the awkward position of meeting your future son in a different time line, and discovering that you died when that son was fourteen years old. Even now, the thought of Lorian put a lump in his throat.

The uncertain expression on her face melted away as she listened to his stories. Her eyes misted with sympathy at the story of Lorian and the alternate Enterprise. A tiny hand pressed onto Trip's own as his voice stumbled and finally stopped.

“What happened to him? Your son?”

“That's the worst part. I don't know. His ship never made it out of the subspace corridor. He probably---” Trip found he couldn't say it. He drained his glass of Andorian ale instead.

Tosh was silent for a moment. It seemed that she knew just when to talk and when to be silent. Finally, she said quietly, I know of loss. I have also lost friends, but we must not lose hope. We must keep going.”

He managed a smile. “You know, you sound like another friend I know.”

“Your English friend?”

“No, someone else. When she first came onto Enterprise, she was shy, uncertain. She grew up kinda isolated because she was a linguistic genius. She freaked out on her first Away Mission, and was convinced she didn't have what it took to stay.”

His words struck a chord with her; he could see it on her face.“So she left?”

“Nope. I convinced her that we needed her and she stayed, and she's now a valuable crew member and a good friend. You two seem a lot alike. Her name's Hoshi.”

“Hoshi? 'Star'?” Tosh smiled again.

“Yeah, and her name's pretty appropriate, I think. I---” Movement at the corner of his eye startled him, and a tall, dark-haired man appeared at the bar on Trip's other side. His dark blue eyes assessed and weighed him all in one fell swoop, then they crinkled in genuine humor. What the hell? Trip thought. I didn't even see him come in.

“Looks like you found a new friend, Tosh,” the man said. Judging from the American accent and the odd military-style coat he wore, this must be the Captain Jack whom Toshiko had mentioned earlier. He definitely wasn't Starfleet, but he acted as if he had been in some sort of military.

Tosh nodded and said, “Captain Jack Harkness, this is Charles Tucker the Third, known to his friends as Trip.”

“Sir,” Trip said, as he accepted Jack's handshake. Jack didn't appear to be much older than himself, but Trip had the feeling this man was much older than he looked.

“Trip. Interesting name.” Jack cocked an eyebrow at him and gave him a wide grin.

“I've heard all the jokes, Sir.”

Jack laughed and shrugged in a careless manner. “You don't have to call me 'Sir'. Unless you're military.”

“Actually, I am. In my day job, I'm Commander Tucker, chief engineer of the Enterprise, NX-01.”

Enterprise?” Jack looked like he was about to comment on the name, but Tosh firmly elbowed him in the side. “Oh. Good to meet you then, Commander. You know, you don't look military---”

“Neither do you. Sir.”

Tosh interrupted, “Did you get Ianto's present?”

“Yeah, I did.” Jack grinned. Toshiko rolled her eyes and he laughed again. “I know that look. Okay, I'll be good. By the way,” he turned his head over to Surly Guy and the Butler, “I see that they're taking good care of you. For God's sake, you two, quit being anti-social and get over here.”

Finally, Surly Guy and the Butler joined them at the bar. Surly Guy glared at Trip and asked Tosh, “You okay?”

“I wasn't in any danger.” She looked up at Trip and smiled. Her words warmed him in a way that the Andorian ale didn't.

Jack introduced the other two, Ianto and Owen. Owen was a doctor (Hell of a bedside manner, Trip thought.) and Ianto was, well, Jack's go-to guy. The friendly banter between him and Jack made Trip suspect there might be something more between the two than was obvious. Jack had spent all this time looking for a birthday present for this guy...Trip wondered if these two were a couple. They seemed complete opposites.

And where does that sound familiar? Just like you and T'Pol. Trip tried not to grin at the reminder. And Malcolm and Hoshi.

Owen pointedly ignored Trip as he chatted with Tosh. To Trip's surprise, she took the doctor's surliness as a matter of course. Amazin' how she doesn't seem to talk much, but when she does, you gotta listen.

Just like Hoshi. These two were so similar it was scary. “Hey, if you stick around for a little while longer, Malcolm and Hoshi should be by and you guys can meet 'em. I think you'd like Hoshi, Tosh. You two have quite a bit in common.”

Jack chuckled and shook his head. “Love to, but we've got to get going. That---” He inclined his head at the Rift outside, “---isn't gonna wait.”

“Yeah, don't wanna get stuck here,” Owen muttered.

Tosh got off her stool and smiled again at Trip. “It was nice to meet you, Trip.”

“And you too, Tosh. Take care of yourself, okay?”

“Say hello to your friends for us.” Owen touched her elbow and guided her away from the bar. Trip watched the four of them go and marveled again how comfortable they seemed in each other's presence.

“She's something else, isn't she?” Blaine said from behind the bar.

“Yeah. I still can't shake the feeling I know her from somewhere.”

“Remind you of some people you know?”

He was still staring at The Hub's open door. “Yeah.”

Blaine chuckled. “She didn't tell you her last name, did she? Probably didn't want to cause any temporal problems.”

“What?” Trip frowned. “Her last name?”

“Her full name's Toshiko Sato.”

Trip's jaw hit the ground. Toshiko Sato. Hoshi Sato. Was it possible? Was she---? And being British, could it be possible she could be related to Malcolm instead? It was too much of a coincidence. It couldn't be possible.

Blaine smiled and winked with a knowing expression. “And yes, Commander Tucker. With multiple times and universes, anything is possible.”

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trekwriter151

May 2012

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