Falling Barriers

  Summary: T/S, Rated PG-13. Trip and Hoshi solidify their relationship. Continues ‘The Language Barrier’.

  Disclaimer: Paramount owns the Trek dance hall; I like to call the steps once in awhile.

  By Josephine


       Hoshi walked down the corridor to Trip’s cabin, becoming more and more nervous with each step. Trip had asked her to come see him when he got out of sickbay. He hadn’t mentioned anything about the little lie she told about them being married. :::At least he didn’t seem mad.:::
       Taking a deep breath, Hoshi rang the door chime.
       As she entered the room, Hoshi saw Trip hobbling toward her. “What are you doing?! You’re supposed to be in bed!” She put her shoulder under his arm and made him lie down. “You’re not going to get well if you push yourself, you know. My brother broke his ribs once; he snuck out of bed so often it took him twice as long to recover.” Hoshi started to pick up the room. “Men! All alike. You’re either really sick and don’t believe it, getting out of bed too soon; or nothing is really wrong and you think you’re dying.” She was chattering to cover her anxiety.
       “I didn’t ask you to come over to clean my room, Hoshi.” Trip reached over and grabbed her hand. “Sit down. You make me nervous.” His smile took the sting out of the words.
       Hoshi dragged a chair over and sat by the bunk. “How are you feeling? You’re bruises look better.” She almost reached out to touch the one on his cheek.
       “It only hurts when I laugh, darlin’” Trip chuckled. “Ow. Like then.” Hoshi smiled and wrinkled her nose at him. “Tell me more about how you got me out of trouble on that planet.” Trip took her hand in his again.
       Looking at their entwined fingers, Hoshi went into more detail about the Baloglian’s language and the problems the translator was having. Trip weakly laughed.
       “I knew something was wrong when I complimented the Odom’s daughter on her dress and her fiancé turned three shades of orange. Good thing I had you on my side.” Trip kissed her palm, keeping his eyes on her face. He couldn’t miss the blush that crept up her cheeks. :::Good::: he thought. :::She’s not indifferent to me, at least.::: Trip had begun to worry after wooing Hoshi for more than a month with no response.
       Trip dropped her hand, keeping it in his loose grip. “The Doc said I had to stay still for a few days, but I’m goin’ stir crazy alone in this cabin. Could you keep me company? Have dinner with me? Play cards? I’d let you win at poker,” he continued with a grin.
       “All right. When you ask so nicely, how can I refuse? Have you eaten yet?”
       “No, and I’m starving. Call the mess hall and tell them to bring somethin’ up early.” Trip sighed. “Ah hate this. Ah can’t move wit’out mah ribs hurtin’.” The pain made his accent thicker. He pouted.
       Hoshi laughed. “You look like a little boy who can’t have a treat. After we eat, you can take a shower while I clean up, then you can teach me how to play poker.” She surprised herself by continuing: “And if you’re good I’ll give you a shiatsu massage so you’ll sleep better.” Hoshi turned to call up dinner so Trip wouldn’t see the blush creeping back up her face.
       “With that as a reward, Ah’ll be on my best behavior.” Trip grinned as Hoshi had to clear her throat before she spoke to the mess hall.
       “They’re bringing dinner now, do you want to eat in bed or in a chair?”
       “In a chair, Ah’ve been in bed all day.” Trip started to get up.
       “No you don’t! Let me help you,” scolded Hoshi as she moved toward the bed. Trip gave her a look. “I’m a lot stronger than you think, Commander.” Hoshi swung Trip’s legs over the edge of the bunk, and gripped his wrists. “Now take a breath, and exhale as I pull you up. Relax; I’m going to do all the work. On three. One, two, three!” She smoothly got him standing. “Did that hurt?” Hoshi helped him to the chair, reversing the process.
       “Not at all, darlin’. I may just have to keep you around.” Trip grinned as the door chime rang. “Right on time.”
       They ate dinner and talked of different things: the planets they had been to, people on the ship, why they had come on Enterprise. Hoshi didn’t give her reasons until dinner had been finished.
       “I don’t know why I joined Enterprise.” Hoshi looked out the porthole, not willing to meet Trip’s eyes. “The Captain asked me specifically, but I don’t know why I said yes. I thought I would be spending my Starfleet career in an office, immersed in alien languages, not out in space immersed in alien bodies.” She shivered, remembering the Axanar hanging from ceiling.
       “But you did come, darlin’. Why? What made you trade your office for the stars?”
       Hoshi sighed. “I had a professor in graduate school. A little wizened old man. He knew dozens upon dozens of languages, mostly dead ones. He would sit in class comparing and contrasting them, breaking them down until they were nothing but root words of root words.” She chuckled. “We likened him to a dwarf, buried away from the real world, away from the people who were actually living and breathing the languages. We promised ourselves *we would never be like that. But there isn’t a lot of call for linguists on Earth anymore, many of us had a hard time finding jobs. I decided that Starfleet would offer me the best way to get out there where the new languages are. I never realized it would be as harrowing as it’s been.” Hoshi looked down at her clenched hands.
       “Well *I think you have a core of steel under that mild exterior of yours.” Hoshi’s startled eyes met Trip’s. “You gave up a ‘safe’ existence for something risky that deep down you knew you really wanted. You did want to go back at first, but you’ve hung on, and gotten a lot braver. When I saw you talking to The Odom, I could hardly believe it was my Hoshi. It’s always been within you, darlin’, you just have to tap it. Now help me up, I need that shower.” Trip grunted as Hoshi pulled him to his feet.
       “I told you to exhale, not grunt.” She smiled at him. “Thanks, Trip.” Hoshi kissed his cheek.
       “Well ---” Trip looked like he was going to blush. “Jest get me to the shower.”
       Hoshi slipped her shoulder under Trip’s arm, trying not to hurt him, but he still hissed at the pain. “I’m sorry –“ she started, but Trip cut her off.
        ‘It’s not your fault, darlin’. Jest these damn ribs of mine.” They hobbled to the bathroom.
       “Do you need me to help you – um – “ Hoshi gestured to his boxers. Trip looked down, thinking.
       “Ah think so.” He frowned.
       “Here. Let’s try this.” Hoshi grabbed a towel, wrapping it around Trip’s waist. She reached under and pulled off his boxers. “There you go ---” She looked at his bandage. “I don’t think you’re allowed to get that wet. Let me unwrap you.”
       Trip held still as Hoshi moved in and started unwinding his bandaged ribs. Trip could feel the heat from her body. He closed his eyes, enjoying the light feel of her fingers on his chest. He sighed when they were through.
       “Does it hurt?” Trip opened his eyes to see the concern in Hoshi’s. “No, darlin’, it’s fine.” He couldn’t resist kissing her nose.
       “You get in the shower, I have to go back to my room for some lotion. I think you’ve earned your massage. Will you be all right?”
       “Ah’ll be fine. Git.” Trip sounded casual, but Hoshi could see the grimace on his face.
       “I’ll be right back.”
       Trip eased into the shower after turning on the water. He let the spray pound upon his back and chest, the hot needles felt good on his sore muscles. Trip attempted to soap himself down, but moving his arms hurt too much. He finally heard Hoshi come back in.
       “Hoshi? I think I need your help.”
       Hoshi stuck her head in the bathroom. “What did you say? I couldn’t understand you over the water.”
       “Ah hurt more than Ah thought. It’s too hard t’wash. Ah’m sorry t’ask, but ---” Trip’s voice trailed off. “Ah can get Archer or Reed if you don’t feel ---”
       Hoshi interrupted him with “No, I’d said I’d help. You’ll have to turn the water down so I don’t get wet.”
       Trip opened the shower door, handing her the washcloth. “Ah already soaped it up. Ah’m sorry, Hoshi –“
       “Stop apologizing. What are friends for?” Hoshi took the washcloth and started in on Trip’s chest. “Tell me if I hurt you.” She thought she heard a “Never, darlin’” but decided it was the sound of the water.
       Hoshi’s hand under the soapy cloth methodically covered Trip’s body. :::She has the lightest touch. It feels so good --- ::: Even through the pain in his ribs Trip could sense himself getting aroused.
       Hoshi kept up a light chatter as she washed Trip, telling him about one of Porthos’ antics he had missed. She kept her eyes firmly away from his mid-section. She couldn’t believe she was actually doing this. Hoshi felt her pulse quicken.
       “Do you want to umm --- finish?” Hoshi inadvertently looked down and realized Trip was affected too. He cleared his throat. “Yes, thanks.” She handed him the washcloth and left a towel within easy reach before fleeing the bathroom.
       :::Whew! Get a grip, girl!::: Hoshi swallowed and called back to Trip: “I put a pair of boxers by the sink, I’ll help you get them on when you’re ready, and then dry the rest of you.” :::Breath in --- breath out --- :::
       Trip finally came out of the bathroom, one hand holding the towel around his waist and the other holding the boxers. “Hearts?” He looked from the boxers to Hoshi.
       “I found them in your drawer. Thought they would cheer you up.” She gave him an innocent look.
       “Jest help me put ’em on.” Trip shook his head.
       When they were done Hoshi helped him lay partially on his good side on the bunk, and straightened the bathroom. “Ah’m gonna owe you big time for this, darlin’,” Trip mumbled.
       “Don’t worry about it.” Hoshi joked. “What’s a wife for?” She blushed and peeked to see if Trip caught her slip of the tongue. He didn’t seem to.
       Hoshi picked up the lotion and went over to the bunk. “Ready for your massage, koishii?”, sneaking in the endearment since he hadn’t noticed her wife comment.
       “Sure thing, darlin’, whatever you want ---” Trip’s sleepy voice trailed off.
       Pouring some of the salve into her palm, Hoshi rubbed her hands together to warm it up. She started from the bottom.
       :::Nice feet.::: Her fingers pressed the insole and heel, making sure not to miss the toes themselves. Hoshi moved up to Trip’s ankles and calves, kneading the knots out. Trip made a happy noise deep in his throat. :::Strong thighs::: Hoshi let her mind wander over the same subject her hands were. :::He seems to want a more serious relationship.::: She sighed. :::I’ll follow his lead.::: Her hands had reached his shoulders. Hoshi’s stomach flipped at how good they felt under her hands. :::He better hurry up though::: She giggled at her wantonness, finishing up with his fingers. Hoshi pressed a kiss to his palm, watching his face. Trip sighed and smiled. A soft “darlin’” slipped out.
       Hoshi stood up, working out her own kinks. She straightened the cabin, and threw a blanket over Trip. “Sleep well, koishii,” she whispered.

       Trip woke slowly, not wanting to move too fast. He was rewarded with a dull ache in his ribs instead of the sharper pain of yesterday. :::Ok, now to get up::: Trip tensed, pushing himself partially up. A groan escaped.
       “What do you think you’re doing? Here, grab hold of me.” Trip was surprised to hear Hoshi’s voice.
       “What’re you doin’ here? You didn’t spend th’ night, did you?”
       “No, I came in early. Come on, let’s get you to the bathroom, your breakfast is ready.” Hoshi slipped under his arm.
       Half an hour later Trip sat in his cabin, alone. Hoshi had been a whirlwind, taking care of what had to be done. “I’ll be back for lunch if you want,” she said, pausing in the doorway on her way to start her shift. “Uhh, yeah,” was about all Trip could get out. Then suddenly she was gone.
       Trip felt like he had been beached by a storm. He looked around his cabin, not knowing what to do. “There’s always reports.” He pulled his computer toward him, and got busy.

       The next few days passed much the same way with various friends coming to visit, until one morning Hoshi walked in to see Trip out of bed, dressed in his uniform.
       “You’re up! I suppose you’re feeling better then.” She looked at him suspiciously.
       “I feel fine, much better. You can barely see the bruises, and I can raise my arms above my shoulders. I have to check in with the Doc though, want to come?”
       “Definitely. I want to make sure you’re ok.” Hoshi preceded him out the door.
       “I hope my crew hasn’t ruined Engineering,” Trip muttered on the way to sickbay. “They’re probably cooking soup on the warp core.”
       “And that’s the Chief Engineer’s prerogative, is it?” Hoshi teased as they entered sickbay.
       “Ah, our intrepid patient. How are you feeling today?” Dr. Phlox led Trip to an examining table and had him peel off the top part of his jumpsuit. “Has Ensign Sato been taking good care of you?” Phlox felt Trip’s ribs and checked his range of motion. “Very impressive. You healed quickly, Mr. Tucker.”
       “I think it was the massages every night. It kept my muscles from tightening up. Hoshi‘s pretty talented with her hands.” Trip pulled his uniform back on.
       “Oh really?” Phlox looked at Hoshi blushing and understood more than what was said. “I’ll have to remember that for future patients. You have made an almost full recovery, Commander; you can get back to Engineering. But take it easy for the next few days. We wouldn’t want you suffering a relapse.” Phlox looked at Trip, then Hoshi. “I think that continuing the massages would be a good idea. We don’t want those muscles to get stiff, now. I don’t think I need to see you again, not unless there is a problem.” Phlox shooed them out of sickbay.
       Walking to the turbolift, Trip seemed ill at ease. “You’re not in more pain than you let on, are you?” Hoshi asked.
       “No, I’m fine. I was wondering --- I know you have a lot to catch up on, coming to see me ev’ry day --- but if you weren’t busy tonight --- would you have dinner with me again? My treat.” Trip cleared his throat. “If you want.”
       “Of course. Maybe I can actually beat you at poker this time. What time?”
       “1900 hours. Casual, no uniforms. Until then?” Trip lifted her hand to kiss the palm again.
       Hoshi blushed and wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Until then.” She stepped into the lift, finally looking at Trip just before the doors closed.
       He walked to engineering, a grin on his face.

       :::I think that’s it. I hope I didn’t forget anything. Music, food, lighting --- ::: Trip lowered the lights and looked around with a critical eye. The jazz he remembered Hoshi liked played softly. A small table covered with a checkered cloth had been placed between two chairs in the middle of the room. Open flames were normally not allowed on the Enterprise, so a large flashlight with a small homemade shade became a lamp and cast a pool of light on the table. Flowers that he had begged from Hydroponics finished it off. :::Hope she doesn’t laugh:::
       The door chime rang, and Trip nervously croaked out “Come in!”.
       “Are you coming down with a cold now?” Hoshi came in and felt his forehead.
       “I’m fine, woman,” he laughed. “You don’t need to hover anymore. Sit down. Are you hungry?”
       “Yes, what are ---“ Hoshi trailed off seeing the table as Trip moved aside. “I’m impressed. Did you do this yourself?”
       She sat down after Trip pulled out her chair. “Everything but the actual cooking. I had to convince Chef to make the chili for everyone’s dinner since she wouldn’t do just two servings.” Hoshi looked at the food spread out in front of her. “There’s cornbread; and jalapenos, cheese and sour cream if you want it. Also chili powder. I didn’t know if you liked spicy food or not.” Trip fidgeted.
       Hoshi took a bit of the chili, smiling at the taste. “It’s good. She reached for the chili powder. ”I like spicy food. I grew up with wasabi, you know.”
       “What’s that?” Trip poured out two bottles of beer. “It’s traditional to drink beer with chili,” he explained at her look.
       “Wasabi is a horseradish paste from Japan. I should have you over for a Japanese dinner one night.” Hoshi dug into her food.
       The conversation ebbed and flowed, Hoshi and Trip comfortable in the silences that arose. When they were done, Trip cleared and announced “Now for the grand finale, Pecan Pie!” He placed a good-sized slice in front of her.
       Hoshi took a bite and closed her eyes. “Utter bliss ---“. She finished off the pie, leaning back and placing her hands over her stomach. “I am so stuffed. But I had to finish it, it was so good.”
       Trip stood up, holding out his hand. “How about a little exercise?”
       He laughed as she looked at him like he was insane. “Dance with me. Please?”
       Hoshi slowly moved toward Trip’s arms. He could tell she was nervous, but he pulled her close and she melted into him. Her head swam as Trip’s warmth, his scent, his heartbeat overwhelmed her senses.
       “Hoshi --- “Trip kissed her ear. “Ah’ve never been any good with fancy words. Ah need you with me to be happy.” He trailed kisses down her jaw. “Stay with me, be with me, only,” he whispered against her lips. At her silence he lifted his head to look in her eyes. “Hoshi ---?”
       “Shut up and kiss me, koishii.”
       “Ah’ll take that as a yes.” Trip managed to get out before Hoshi pulled his head back down to hers.