Author - Gigi Sinclair | Genres - Hurt/Comfort - Abductions & Seductions | Main Story | Rating - R
Trip * Malcolm Fanfic Home

Author: Gigi Sinclair

Author's e-mail: gigitrekslash@canada.com

Author's Web site: http://angelfire.com/trek/gigislash

Fandom: Enterprise

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Rating: R

Category: Slash

Disclaimer: This is a nonprofit fanfic. No copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred.

Comments: Thanks to all those who commented on "Temporal Anomaly", which was supposed to be part of this one, but I couldn't quite fit it in. This is a Challenge Fic in response to one of DSRT's challenges, the one that stipulated, and I quote: "Write a story where a new Lieutenant is assigned to the Enterprise and becomes fixated on the chief engineer Charles 'Trip' Tucker and will literally do anything to obtain his affections, even assault and murder.--Must be m/m (Tucker/Reed can be established or pre-slash);--Bonds of Leather;--Attack;--Close quarters;--fear and loathing;--a phaser blast. I think I got them all.

Archived to EntSTSlash on 02/24/2003.
Archived at Trip*Malcolm with the author's express permission.

"Lieutenant." The voice of Ensign Baker jarred Malcolm out of his daydream. He coughed and tried to look like he'd been thoroughly focused on his phase pistol. The ones on the table, that is. "I'm going to take this down to Engineering." Yes, Malcolm thought. OK. All right. Those were the correct answers. He knew that, but the words:

"I'll do it," launched a full-scale rebellion and escaped his mouth entirely of their own volition.

"OK..." Ensign Baker blinked, but didn't disagree. Malcolm coughed again, then winced. God, he thought, much more of that and people were going to think he was sneaking illegal cigarettes in the cargo bay.

"I wanted to discuss something with Commander Tucker," Malcolm said, by way of explanation. And left the armoury before the ensign could think to ask what that was.

When he arrived in Engineering, Malcolm was treated to the very attractive sight of Trip Tucker lying under a console, his legs spread, his knees up and his groin in full view. Malcolm was tempted to stop and enjoy the vista, but Trip was, unfortunately, not alone, and Malcolm didn't want Lieutenant Hess or one of the ensigns to ask him what he was doing. So he cleared his throat and said:

"I've got some specs for you, Commander."

"Put it on the desk, would ya, Malcolm? I'll get to it when I have a sec." A few weeks ago, Malcolm would have done that and left. But that was when he was merely interested in the Commander. Now he was obsessed, it wasn't enough.

"I was hoping you'd look at it now." He hadn't been, at least not from an official point of view. They were unimportant weapons specs, but that didn't matter. He wanted to talk to Trip for as long as possible. Which, Malcolm thought, just went to prove he was losing his mind. Normally, he would have rushed back to the armoury as soon as was even remotely polite. Or before.

"I'm kinda busy, Malcolm," was Trip's distracted reply. Malcolm took a deep breath and blurted:

"It's a proposal to reroute forty percent of the engine power to the weapons systems." It had the intended effect, but not in the intended way. Trip sat up, hitting himself the console, and rolled out from under it, clutching at his head.


"Are you all right?" Malcolm asked, with genuine concern.

"What the hell was that?" Trip looked up at him and smiled. To Malcolm's great, if not displeased, surprise. "A joke?" The smile did him in every time. Malcolm had to smile back.

"It got your attention, didn't it?" And, if Malcolm was honest with himself, that was what he wanted. Trip's undivided attention. All the time.

"Yeah, well. There are easier ways of doing that." Trip rubbed at the rapidly forming lump. Malcolm swallowed and, tightening his grip on the PADD, replied:

"Like what?" Malcolm had his own ideas, none of which involved keeping his hands to himself. The pause seemed to last forever. Finally, though, just as Malcolm started to seriously wish he were dead, Trip's smile got even larger.

"Be my date tonight." Malcolm's cough returned, so violently that he drew the attention of two crewmembers on the other side of the room, as well as Trip's concern.

"You OK?"


"Good. Cause the Captain's already bailed on me and Hoshi's having some kind of toenail-painting party with Liz. And I don't want to go to the movies on my own." So he was third choice. Malcolm didn't really care. He could do nothing but nod like a broken marionette when Trip continued: "You'll come with me, right?" Squashing all thoughts about coming with Trip---or coming over, inside of or next to Trip--- Malcolm asked, as a pure afterthought:

"What's playing?"

"'An Affair to Remember'." Malcolm suppressed a groan and, as he headed back down the hall, consoled himself with the thought that he wouldn't be spending any time thinking about the movie, anyway.

Malcolm could pinpoint the exact moment---when they were trapped on the shuttle and waiting to freeze to death---that his distaste for Trip had turned into respect. He could even generalize the time---after a few dinners and the odd movie or two---that respect had turned to friendship. What he didn't know was when the friendship had turned into a crush of adolescent proportions.

Or maybe it was more than a crush, Malcolm thought, as he sat next to Trip. Since 'An Affair to Remember' was not the most popular movie in the rotation, they were the only people sitting in the back row, which didn't do much to make Malcolm feel more mature. He was picturing what it would be like to make out with the Commander right there when he glanced over at the object of his lust and saw he was crying. Sniffling, Trip pulled a tissue from his pocket and blew his nose, never taking his eyes off the screen. Malcolm had a sudden, intense urge to hug him.

Ever the tactician, he weighed the variables. They were in public, but that wouldn't necessarily upset Trip, who Malcolm had long suspected of having more exhibitionist tendencies than the average streaker. He was clearly emotionally vulnerable at the moment, which could work to Malcolm's advantage. And, from an optimistic, practical point of view, neither of them had to get up early the next day. But there was one unknown variable, rather a large one. He didn't know how Trip felt about him. He flirted, but then he flirted with everyone. Trip touched him, frequently, but no more frequently than he touched, say, the Captain or Hoshi. Either or both of whom, Malcolm was sure, would gladly, along with just about everyone else on board, have done anything Trip asked of them. Which meant, Malcolm thought sadly, he couldn't even hope Trip would eventually come to him out of desperation.

"Malcolm?" Malcolm came back to see Trip wiping his eyes on the tissue. "You OK?"

"Yes," Malcolm blinked, surprised. "Are you?" He was touched to see a blush appear on Trip's cheeks. "Fine. You ain't the only one with allergies." Trip stood up and seemed surprised when Malcolm didn't immediately follow. "You coming?" Malcolm looked forward to see the final credits rolling and the rest of the crew filing out, in various stages of emotional distress.

"Wanna come in for a nightcap?" Trip asked when they arrived outside his quarters. Malcolm could think of a thousand reasons why that wasn't a good idea, and immediately dismissed all of them.

"All right."

"Now, if I remember right," Trip smiled, tossing the tissue away and taking a bottle out of his foot locker, "You're a bourbon man."

"Where did you get that?"

"Let's just say, the Captain felt real bad about deserting me tonight." He winked and poured Malcolm a drink. "He'll feel even worse when he realizes what I 'borrowed' on my way out." Malcolm drank, the liquor having the same warming, intoxicating effect that Trip's presence did, all the time.

"I'm the head of security, Trip. Don't tell me that." Trip smiled into his own glass.

"I trust ya." Trip lay back on the bed, as Malcolm forced himself to sit at attention, trying to quell the urge to go and join his friend. An urge that didn't waver when Trip said, seemingly out of nowhere: "Hey, you still got that thing for T'Pol?"

"Not really." Malcolm swallowed hard. Trip nodded thoughtfully.

"Yeah. I can see how you might prefer someone a little more...responsive." Malcolm knocked back the rest of the glass, burning his esophagus as he did so. "Anyone else caught your fancy?"

After the briefest of pauses, Malcolm shook his head, sure that his cheeks were the colour of a standard tomato. "Really?" Trip put his head on one side, looking at Malcolm like he was a fascinating new life form. Or a malfunctioning engine part Trip was determined to figure out. Malcolm began to fiddle with his empty glass, then reached for the bottle and poured himself another one. Without asking, which was just one more indication of how flustered this man could make him feel.

It didn't help that, when Trip finally spoke, it was to say:

"We're friends, right, Malcolm?" It wasn't really a question, which was fine because Malcolm had no answer beyond:

"Yes," to offer.

"Then I can tell you something." Trip grinned again, and Malcolm had a familiar, paranoid feeling that he was being teased. "There's someone on board who's caught my fancy." The teasing suspicion disappeared, replaced with another familiar feeling. Crushing disappointment. He took a long swallow of bourbon, which did nothing to abate it. So, as usual, Malcolm defended himself by going on the offensive.

"Who? The Captain?" Trip actually laughed at that suggestion, a sincere, surprised laugh like the thought had never even crossed his mind.

"Not my type, Malcolm." Malcolm didn't ask what Trip's type was. He didn't want to hear him describe some cute little engineering ensign or one of his six-foot armoury Amazons. Or, worse yet, Hoshi.

Unfortunately, Trip continued anyway. "I like 'em short, dark and brilliant. The kind of person who acts real shy, but I know better." Damn, Malcolm swore. Then decided the occasion merited a more aggressive, Fuck. Since that wasn't what he was going to be doing any time in the foreseeable future. Since Trip was clearly describing Hoshi.

Malcolm was so convinced of this, it took a moment for him to realize that the next part of Trip's description, "And who's got a real sexy accent" didn't compute. In that intervening moment, Trip moved down to the end of his bed, until he was a mere foot or so away from Malcolm. This meant that when Malcolm finally realized that Hoshi didn't have any accent, at least not one that would be overly discernible to Trip, he had only to glance upwards to find himself staring into Trip's eyes.

"Like I said," Trip repeated, his voice suddenly low and his breathing, Malcolm noticed, increasing rapidly. "Short, dark and brilliant."

Malcolm's lips were dry. Unconsciously, he licked them, then realized that might not have been the ideal form of body language to speak at that precise moment. On the other hand, Malcolm thought, maybe it was very appropriate. Time for some tactical manoeuvres. Still not sure if they were on the same page, or even in the same library, he leaned forward an inch, and felt his insides seize as Trip did the same, tilting his head a little. Malcolm was about to test his theory further, when the door chimed and Trip looked up sharply. Malcolm sat back in the chair as the Commander cleared his throat and called,

"Come in," and the door slid open to reveal the Captain.

"Hey, Trip." Captain Archer glanced over his shoulder and, with typical sensitivity, added, "Oh, hi, Malcolm. Glad I got you both together. There's something I want to tell you." If the next words out of the Captain's mouth weren't 'Suliban operatives have kidnapped the entire crew,' Malcolm thought, then he would eagerly chair the next mutiny meeting.

The announcement was not quite so dramatic, but it was as unexpected.

"We're getting a new crewmember tomorrow. Lieutenant Hamish MacEwan. He'll be working with you, Trip." Trip frowned, and Malcolm sympathized. He could barely tolerate most of the people Trip worked with already.

"Never heard of him."

"He's new to Starfleet. But he's got a Masters in warp theory from MIT." Trip rolled his eyes.

"Great. Thanks, Jon, that's just what I need. Some wiseass who thinks he knows more 'an me..."

"He'll only be with us six months. You'll survive." Trip came very close to pouting, an expression Malcolm hadn't seen before, but which he didn't find entirely unappealing.

"So what, we're running a work experience program now?" The Captain looked embarrassed.

"He's Admiral Forrest's godson." Trip gave a sardonic grin.

"That explains it."

"We don't have a choice, Trip. He seems like a perfectly fine guy."

"Have you met him?"

"I spoke to him on the comm earlier. That's why I couldn't join you for the movie. How was it?" He sounded like he was trying to appease Trip. From what Malcolm had seen, the Captain spent a good deal of time appeasing Trip, and that went a long way--- much further than any comradely breakfasts or attempts at friendly sports-oriented conversation--- towards endearing Archer to Malcolm.

"Fine." Trip sulked, then glanced at Malcolm, and his expression turned to something quite different. "Great."

"Good." Jon stifled a yawn. "Well, it's getting late and I'm tired." Archer looked at Malcolm. "Walk you back to your quarters, Lieutenant?" Malcolm's brain froze and he couldn't think of any good reason to decline.

"Actually, Captain," Trip replied for him, shooting an almost nervous glance in his direction. "Malcolm and I were gonna have one for the road..."

"One what?" Jon's expression turned suddenly suspicious. "I thought you told me you were all out of booze." Trip tried to backpedal, but it was too late.

"I meant...That is, Captain...Jon..."

"Is that my bourbon?" Malcolm knew that, should the need ever arise, he would unthinkingly and without regret give up his life for anyone on board the ship. It was much, much harder to sacrifice this moment, but he did it for Trip. After all, they had all the time in the world, and Malcolm wasn't one to rush things. If there was anything to rush. In many ways, Malcolm would rather live with a certain dream than an uncertain reality. Faking a yawn, he said:

"It is late, Captain. Shall we go?" As he left, the still-frowning Captain trailing after him, he looked back at Trip, who smiled with a combination of gratitude and promise. Malcolm floated out of the room on a cushion of air, a cushion that was promptly burst by the Captain.

"If you don't mind me saying, Malcolm," he said, before they had even reached the end of Trip's hallway. "There's something you should know about him." Malcolm stopped, wondering if the Captain was more astute than he'd given him credit for, or if he himself was just that transparent. Archer lay a hand on his shoulder and gave a rueful smile. "Trip's the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet, but he's got the attention span of a three-year-old." He squeezed Malcolm's shoulder, then turned, heading off towards his own quarters. "Try not to take it personally." The Captain hadn't lost his talent for confusing speeches. Malcolm was up all night trying to figure out what he'd meant by that.

"Hey, Malcolm." Malcolm looked up from his resequenced chicken to see Trip sliding into a seat on the other side of the table. He put down his PADD, where he was adding Lieutenant MacEwan into the security databases, and picked up his tea. Then put that down again, fiddled with his fork, and finally decided to clasp his hands in his lap.

"Commander." He said, then decided that was too formal, moved his hands onto the table, and added: "Trip. How's the new fellow getting along?" They had both, along with the Captain and T'Pol, been in the bay when the Lieutenant's shuttle arrived. The man hadn't overly impressed Malcolm. MacEwan was in his early thirties, short, dark-haired and Scottish, although years in the States had tempered his accent into a something quasi-comprehensible. But he was nothing special. Trip shrugged.

"All right, I guess." He speared his chicken. "How are you?"

"All right." Malcolm frowned, wishing he could think of something wittier to say. "I'm..."

"Want to come over tonight?" Trip asked, suddenly, in a rush. "You know, I thought, if you wanted, maybe we could..."

"Excuse me, mind if I sit here?" It took every ounce of Malcolm's self-control not to judo flip Hamish MacEwan onto the mess hall floor.

"Course, Lieutenant." Trip ran a hand through his hair and inched his chair over. MacEwan sat down without hesitating.

"Food looks great," was MacEwan's enthusiastic verdict, as he tucked in.

"Yeah, Chef's pretty good," Trip obviously tried to inject some feeling into his voice, but it looked difficult. And Malcolm was glad.

"I was just sorry they didn't have pan-fried catfish on the menu," MacEwan continued, chewing his chicken. That earned Trip's attention.

"Butter 'im up a little and Chef'll make that, too." MacEwan smiled widely, and Malcolm had to admit, the man wasn't exactly Quasimodo.

"You guys have got everything!" Trip paused a moment. Malcolm willed him not to ask the question, but the Commander selfishly ignored the attempted telepathy.

"Where'd ya get into catfish? I never thought of it bein' a real big seller up there in Massachusetts. Or Scotland."

"My mother's from Pensacola."

"Get out!" Yes, Malcolm agreed. Please do. The sooner the better. "There's a great beach right near there. What's it called..." Trip drummed his fingers on the table.

"Buena Vista."

"That's the one. You ever been?"

"We spent practically every summer there when I was a kid. It was a hell of lot warmer than Edinburgh," MacEwan added, smiling at Malcolm. Who looked back with all the warmth of a Vulcan executioner.

"I don't believe this." Trip grinned excitedly. "Hey, you don't know the Riddells, do you?"

"Mona and Jim? My sister was a bridesmaid at their daughter's wedding."

"Jennifer got married?"

"To a dentist who plays bass in an amateur rock and roll band." Trip pushed his plate away, all thought of resequenced chicken forgotten. Along with, Malcolm feared, all thought of his other lunch companion.


"Eric Brewer!" They answered, in unison. It was enough to send Malcolm over the edge.

"I hate to interrupt the all-Florida state reunion, but..."

"Yeah, sure, Malcolm. See ya later." Trip barely took his eyes off MacEwan. "Eric, huh? He always was a nutcase. I remember the summer after tenth grade, we took this case of beer out to the dunes..."

Later that afternoon, Malcolm was in the armoury, angrily jabbing at buttons, when Trip came in. He refused to raise his hopes, but his hopes didn't listen and raised themselves anyway. And were then promptly dashed into shards like a faulty electronic target.

"Listen, Malcolm, about tonight. Hamish brought a bunch of home videos. I'd invite you, of course, but it's just a bunch of people you don't know. It'd be real boring for you."

"Fine." Malcolm reverted to his favourite, all-purpose word, used when things were anything but.

"Some other time, OK?"

"If I happen to be available, Commander." And if Trip managed to tear himself away from Lieutenant MacEwan. As Trip left the armoury, Malcolm recalled the Captain's words of warning. And wondered exactly how he was supposed to take it.

If Trip's attention span was short in relation to Malcolm, it seemed that in relation to Lieutenant MacEwan, it was inexhaustible. For the next week, they were practically a symbiotic entity. Wherever Trip went, MacEwan was right behind. Malcolm saw them eating together in the mess hall, working out together in the gym, and sitting together, deep in animated conversation, in the lounge. Since Trip had the Lieutenant with him whenever he came up to the bridge, it was a week until Malcolm next saw Trip alone. He'd given up going to Engineering himself. He'd also given up on pointless fantasies that were clearly never going to be realized.

So, instead, he went back to focusing on his work. In between defending the crew and trying to teach them to defend themselves, Malcolm didn't have much chance to indulge his own love of weaponry. Finally deciding to make the time, he was alone late one night, shooting a few practice rounds and reflecting on how phase pistols never deserted you for snotty Lieutenants from MIT, when the door opened behind him.

Malcolm glanced back and saw Trip hovering inside the door.

"Commander." He turned back to the range. He didn't want to see Trip's Scottish shadow. He may have given up thoughts of having sex with Trip, but that didn't mean he wanted to spend time with the man who was currently licking the Commander's arse. Figuratively for certain, and perhaps literally as well. "What can I do for you?"

"Just thought I'd drop by. You never come see me anymore." If Malcolm hadn't known better, if he hadn't been warned, he might have mistaken Trip's tone for hurt.

"Sorry," he apologized insincerely. Malcolm glanced back briefly, then returned to his weapons. "Where's your friend?"

"Who?" Trip was a remarkable actor. Malcolm had noticed it before. This time, he cocked an eyebrow and said, simply:

"Lieutenant MacEwan."

"Oh. I don't know. Last time I saw him, he was looking at blueprints of the ship."

"Ever the professional." Malcolm didn't bother to keep the edge out of his voice. Trip hesitated, then laughed.

"Yeah." Malcolm shot the target once more, then carefully put the weapon away. He was mildly surprised to see that Trip remained where he was, which meant Malcolm had to brush by him on his way out. He did so, saying:

"Well, Commander, if you don't mind..."

"Malcolm." Trip put out a hand. It happened to land on Malcolm's shoulder.

"Yes?" Malcolm stiffened unconsciously, but tried to keep his voice light.

"Are you...jealous?" He sounded shy and uncertain, but Malcolm wasn't about to fall for that. Instead, he sniffed like he didn't know what Trip could possibly be inferring.

"Why should I be?" After all, it wasn't like Malcolm had any claim on Trip. Trip, however, misunderstood. Most likely, Malcolm thought later, by choice.

"You shouldn't," was Trip's soft reply. Before Malcolm could correct his perception, he found himself with a mouthful of Trip's tongue.

Whatever Malcolm's mind may have been thinking, his body was more than willing to respond. He kissed back, slipping an arm around Trip's neck. Trip pulled him closer, murmuring a little. It was a quiet sound, barely audible, but it was enough to bring Malcolm back to reality.

"No." He pulled away, leaving Trip blinking. "I can't do this." Because losing Trip's friendly attention had been difficult. Losing Trip's physical attention would most likely kill him.

"Malcolm, I don't want Hamish, OK? I don't even like him all that much." Trip smiled and raised his eyebrows. "To be honest, he's kinda creepy."

"That didn't stop you hanging about with him all week."

"You think I wanted to? The Captain told me to make him feel welcome." Putting aside, just for the moment, the fact that Trip had seemed pretty eager to make him 'feel welcome' at Malcolm's expense, Malcolm snapped:

"Really. The Captain told me something, too." Bloody typical, he told himself, making another move for the door. Breaking up before they even got together. Well, Malcolm thought, at least it was efficient. Not to mention time-saving. Perhaps he could add it to the 'Personal Qualities' section of his résumé.

"What?" Trip put up his arm, blocking Malcolm's exit. Malcolm regretted the words, but he wasn't about to back down.

"It doesn't matter." After all, he'd had first-hand experience of the very thing the Captain had warned him about. "I just don't want to get left behind as soon as someone better comes along." And there it was, Malcolm's greatest paranoia, the crux of his personal neuroses. It had haunted him his entire life. There was nothing Trip could have said to defuse the fear. So it was probably just as well that he didn't even try. Instead, he grabbed Malcolm, harder this time, and leaned forward to whisper:

"I promise you, Malcolm, the minute someone better comes along, I will leave you behind." Malcolm, who had been expecting a half-hearted denial of what he knew to be true, didn't know what to say. He didn't become any more quick-witted when Trip continued: "Of course, I've never met this person and I seriously doubt they exist, so you're gonna be stuck with me for a while. Think you can handle that?"

"Mmph," was Malcolm's considered reply. Pressed up against the bulkhead with his hands on his commanding officer's ass, it was hard to think of a soliloquy.

Not that he believed Trip, of course. If, he thought lying in Trip's bed the next morning, he had an international nickel for every time someone had promised never to leave him while walking out the door...Still, Trip was Trip and sex was sex. And for once in his life, Malcolm decided to suppress his better judgement and go with it.

His reward for such irresponsibility was a slow, nuzzly waking up, followed by a very distracting shower (Trip had developed a sudden, deep concern for the amount of energy the showers used and insisted they save power by going in together.) A mad rush for the mess hall had followed that, when they realized they were about to be late. Still, Trip made Malcolm sit while he brought a pot of tea, pancakes and a portion of peanut butter over to him.

"Thank you," Malcolm smiled, trying to encompass the entire experience, and not just the breakfast, in the statement. Trip smiled back and, for the first time in his life, the idea of taking a sick day crossed Malcolm's mind. Not that he would, of course, he didn't even do that when he really was ill, but the fact that he would even think of it spoke volumes about what this man could do to him. He lowered his eyes and slathered a pancake with peanut butter.

"Hi, Trip." He looked up when he heard the scraping of a chair and an Edinburgh accent. Trip glanced over at Lieutenant MacEwan, who was making himself at home by the Commander's side. "I was looking over those calculations we did last night..."

"Great," Trip interrupted. "Listen, Hamish, you think you could give me and Malcolm a moment alone?"

"Sure," Hamish nodded amiably. "I have to go and get my breakfast anyway..."

"Hamish." Malcolm would have had no compunctions about telling the man to sod off, but Trip favoured a gentler approach. Which Malcolm admired more than he could understand. "I mean, could you eat somewhere else? I kinda want to spend some time with Malcolm." Malcolm could have kissed Trip right there in the mess hall, but refrained. Trip had already done a thorough job of 'outing' them to one member of the crew. He didn't want to spoil the surprise for everyone else.

Malcolm prided himself on being somewhat of a connoisseur of human nature, or at least of the less positive aspects of it. He saw the change in MacEwan's eyes, even if the smile remained static, and it disturbed him. But not, as he later regretted, enough to do anything about it. He was too caught up in Trip, and the pressure of Trip's foot against his calf as MacEwan left silently and Trip leaned forward to wiggle his eyebrows and whisper, grinning:

"I told ya. Cree-py."

Which, Malcolm thought, was as good a word as any for the man who, an hour or so after breakfast had ended, showed up in the armoury. Alone.

"Lieutenant Reed." He had never come to the armoury before, at least not without Trip leading the way. But he was smiling and brandishing a PADD in his hand, so Malcolm was cautious, but not concerned. After all, while they were surrounded by weapons, he doubted an MIT engineer knew how to use any of them. He also doubted this MIT engineer had enough martial arts black belts to open an accessory boutique. Which was exactly his plan when the 'Enterprise' returned to port.

"Lieutenant MacEwan." Malcolm gave a non-committal nod, then turned back to his console. After a moment's silence, was MacEwan was still standing and smiling, Malcolm prompted: "Can I help you?"

"I don't know."

"Then why are you here?" The only other person present was Ensign Baker, out of earshot but well within their line of sight. Malcolm knew this was why MacEwan kept smiling pleasantly as he said:

"Commander Tucker's quite the fellow, isn't he?"

"Yes." Malcolm agreed, wary.

"How long have the two of you been together?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I don't blame you. Like I say, he's quite the fellow. I just hope you're ready for a little competition." Malcolm drew himself up and gave MacEwan a look that would have frozen the corona of a minor sun.

"Lieutenant MacEwan, I suggest you leave my armoury immediately."

"Certainly." MacEwan inclined his head graciously. "Just remember what I said." Malcolm watched him as he left, then shook his head. He returned to his work, pausing for only a brief moment to wonder why, after a career of being threatened to no effect by everyone from the Klingons to the Romulans to Chef (for repeatedly choosing baked beans on toast over any one of his fantastic creations,) those few words from MacEwan left him vaguely unsettled.

Malcolm wondered if he should tell Trip about the encounter, but soon decided there were better ways to spend their private moments together than chatting about Hamish MacEwan. Besides, later that evening, after they'd tried out a few of the more athletic diversionary techniques, Malcolm could barely remember his own name, let alone Lieutenant MacEwan's.

"Hey," Trip lifted his head off Malcolm's sweat-soaked chest and kissed his nose. "I got a surprise for you."

"Another one?" For the last three hours, Trip had done nothing but surprise Malcolm, with his skill, his stamina and his incredible enthusiasm. Malcolm had always suspected Trip of being as vocal during sex as he was during everything else, but he'd never suspected the man had such an extensive vocabulary of wonderfully dirty expressions. Several of which he received when he suggested Trip let Hoshi write a paper about him.

"We're goin' on vacation."


"Well, not really. But the Captain wants us to take the shuttle out for a little run." Trip kissed him with sweaty, salty lips, a taste Malcolm could definitely get used to. And which already rivalled baked beans on toast, peanut butter pancakes, and pineapple. "Guess it's because we did such a great job last time."

"Right." Malcolm swallowed. Malcolm didn't need to ask if the Captain knew about their attraction, but, "Does he know we're..."

"Goin' at it like a couple of dogs in heat?"

"I was going to say, 'dating.'"

"Dating, huh?" Trip threw a leg over Malcolm, so he was sitting astride his hips. This position coincidentally placed Trip very close to an important part of Malcolm's anatomy, a part which, although Malcolm had thought it was done in, was doing its best to rise to the occasion. Yet again. "I like that. But, no, I haven't told him. It was his idea to send us off on our own for two days. Course," Trip licked his lips. "Can't say I did much to talk him out of it."

"Good," was Malcolm's verdict. Trip moved, bumping against Malcolm's growing erection, which resulted in another grin.

"Hot damn, Malcolm."

"Sorry," Malcolm apologized automatically.

"God, don't be. I just don't know how I'm gonna keep up with you." He shifted, so he was lying, rather than sitting, on his lover's body. "But I do know I'm gonna have fun trying."

"Just how long are you planning on being away, Trip?" Captain Archer cocked an eyebrow at the large duffel bag Trip had slung over his shoulder. Malcolm, who had asked the same question just prior to their arrival in the shuttle bay, blushed.

"It's all necessary equipment, Captain." Unlike the Captain, Malcolm had received a sneak preview of what the bag contained. While they may not have been strictly vital to the mission, even Malcolm had to admit that the leather restraints, the chocolate sauce, and what appeared to be a red rubber vibrator did seem like a lot of fun.

"Ready to go, Captain." Malcolm was torn from his happy anticipation by the appearance of Lieutenant MacEwan, a small bag in hand. Trip's face fell. Malcolm felt so badly for him that he almost forgot his own disappointment. Almost.

"Oh, yeah," Archer added, a little sheepishly. "Lieutenant MacEwan asked if he could accompany you."

"Is that really necessary, Captain?" Trip tried. "I mean, there's barely going to be enough work to occupy the two of us..." The precise reason, Malcolm thought, they had both been looking so forward to it.

"Lieutenant MacEwan's never done a shuttle mission." And Malcolm had never murdered his commanding officer, but no one was going to allow him do it. At the moment, though, permission scarcely mattered.

"Isn't this cosy?" They were well away from 'Enterprise' when MacEwan spoke for the first time, in a calm, strangely flat, tone. On boarding the shuttle, he had silently taken a seat in the rear, and had remained silent while Malcolm assisted Trip in piloting towards the nebula they were meant to be studying. "The three of us in such...close quarters." Neither Trip nor Malcolm replied. "I really did want to go on a shuttle mission," he continued, seemingly unfazed by the lack of response. "I'm sorry if I'm interrupting the honeymoon."

"Lieutenant MacEwan," Trip turned around first, which Malcolm thought was just as well. It gave him a moment to compose himself. And he didn't know how they could possibly explain returning to 'Enterprise' with the corpse of Admiral Forrest's godson. "I am your superior officer and Lieutenant Reed is your colleague. And I don't give a shit who your family is, if you don't you don't treat us with the required respect, I'll have you off this ship so fast you won't know what hit you." MacEwan blinked.

"Actually, Commander," he finally replied, "I know exactly what hit me." Trip turned back to his instruments, shifting a little in his seat.

"We discussed that, Lieutenant."

"Yes." MacEwan stood up suddenly, and Malcolm's hand went to the emergency phase pistol on the wall. "What we didn't discuss was why. Seems to me I've got a lot more in common with you than he," a dismissive shake of the head in Malcolm's direction, "does." Trip's neck reddened and Malcolm decided to intervene. From his vast repertoire of tones, he selected icily polite, and said:

"I don't know what you're talking about, but I suggest you sit down at once. Unless you'd like to explain to the Captain why we had to cut the mission short..."

"You don't know what I'm talking about?" MacEwan interrupted, laughing. "Isn't that interesting. I would have thought the two of you shared everything. Maybe you're not the perfect couple after all."

"That's enough." Slamming his hands on the console, Trip stood up, placing himself in front of Malcolm in a protective posture. Malcolm found this rather sweet, especially since Trip had saved Malcolm exactly twice in two years, while Malcolm saved Trip every other week. "Look, Hamish, I'm real sorry if you thought there could be somethin' between us, but I never did anything to make you believe that. And I told ya, you're a real great guy, but I'm with Malcolm, OK?" MacEwan nodded.

"I know. But if you just thought about it, Trip, you'd see that..."

"Forget it, Hamish." Trip sounded tired rather than exasperated. "I love Malcolm. Nothing you say's gonna change that." There was a little more, but Malcolm's hearing, along with all other brain functions, froze as soon as the word 'love' made an appearance. Trip loved him. That should have scared him, but it didn't. It just made him even more resentful of MacEwan's presence. Because the feeling was mutual, and Malcolm had a some good ideas of how he could prove that to Trip.

Not that he felt any warmer towards the Lieutenant when, without warning, the man lunged forward, knocked Trip to the floor and grabbed the phase pistol. Malcolm jumped up, but MacEwan surprised him with a very hard punch to the stomach. A second later, Malcolm felt MacEwan's arm around his neck and the phase pistol against his head.

"Nothing I can say, Trip? Then maybe there's something I can do." Trip blanched.

"Now, Hamish, just relax there."

"Relax?" Malcolm grabbed MacEwan's arm, and the phase pistol jammed harder against his temple. He wasn't worried for himself. It was set to stun, and while being shot at such close range would result in serious burns, he was more concerned with what might happen to Trip if he wasn't around to help.

"There's no need to do anything foolish. Maybe we could talk..."

"We've talked. A lot." Trip's Adam's apple bobbed.

"But maybe I didn't listen as well as I coulda. I mean, I'm sure you've got some real good points..." Malcolm didn't wait any longer. He hit MacEwan in the groin, and was surprised for the second time in as many minutes when MacEwan responded by throwing him to the ground.

"Sorry, Lieutenant Reed." He kneeled over Malcolm, looking almost solicitous. "I should have told you. There was a Vulcan martial arts instructor at MIT. Extra-credit course." Keeping the pistol trained on Malcolm, he went over and rifled through Trip's duffel bag. Trip looked at Malcolm with definite fear in his eyes, so Malcolm did his best to look reassuring. While simultaneously clutching his stomach and trying not to cough up a vital organ.

"Oh, I like this." Grinning, MacEwan held up the leather handcuffs. "See, Trip? We do have a lot in common." MacEwan dragged Malcolm across the floor and fastened the studded manacles to his wrists, winding them around a pole as he did so. Malcolm had done kinky, but never this kinky. He was not altogether pleased to discover that the restraints were painfully stiff and chafed his wrists. "Now." Satisfied that Malcolm wasn't going anywhere, MacEwan stood up and went over to Trip. "We can have that chat."

"Sure thing, Hamish. If that's what you want." Trip swallowed, glancing back at Malcolm, then turned his attention to MacEwan. "But I think there's better ways of spending our time." He embraced the Lieutenant and, as Malcolm watched with a mixture of horror, jealousy, and appreciation for Trip's quick thinking, kissed MacEwan on the mouth.

Trip put on a good show. Too good for Malcolm, who forced himself to use MacEwan's momentary distraction to try and remove the handcuffs. There was no chance of that. Trip obviously did not go in for flimsy novelties. These were serious restraints and, although Malcolm nearly severed his arteries in the process, he finally acknowledged that he wasn't going to get out on his own. A moment after he reached this conclusion, he looked over to see Trip's mouth still busy with MacEwan's and his hand reaching for MacEwan's pistol. The one, Malcolm was relieved to note, in his hand.

"Oh, Trip." The second Trip's hand hit the pistol, MacEwan pushed him away. "That's too bad. For a second, I almost believed you."

"What do you mean, Hamish? I don't go around kissin' just anyone..."

"I'm not stupid." He pointed the phase pistol at Trip, and Malcolm's heart nearly stopped. "Get over there." He indicated Malcolm's position. Trip didn't bother to argue. Instead, he brushed Malcolm's leg as he sat down beside him. Malcolm smiled, as sincerely as possible under the circumstances, while MacEwan went through Trip's bag again. This time, he produced something Malcolm hadn't seen, a pair of standard, steel handcuffs.

"I didn't know if you'd like the leather ones," Trip whispered, in response to Malcolm's unasked question.

"I don't."

"Good thing I had a backup plan, then." Malcolm just looked at him. MacEwan snapped the handcuffs onto Trip, then changed his mind and switched them around, attaching one of the cool metal handcuffs to Malcolm's chafed wrist while fastening one of the leather manacles to Trip. This meant that, as well as being attached to the shuttle, they were attached to each other, and effectively immobilized. Malcolm had to admit, for an engineer, MacEwan knew a thing or two about securing prisoners.

"When we get back to the ship, Lieutenant..." Trip attempted. Malcolm could have told him it was pointless.

"We're not going back to the ship, Commander." Trip glanced over at Malcolm. "Do you really expect me to let you go off and live happily ever after?" Malcolm didn't, but then he'd had experience with madmen. He'd lived with one until he was sixteen.

"So what are we..."

"We're going to examine the nebula." MacEwan sat in the pilot's chair. The console beeped, indicating he was changing course. "From the inside."

Reeds did not give up. Nor did they let their personal feelings get in the way of the greater good. Which was why, although it nearly killed him, Malcolm leaned towards Trip and whispered:

"Do you really love me?" Trip looked at him tenderly, which didn't make what he was about to do any easier.

"Of course, darlin'."

"I love you, too." Despite their current situation, that brought a smile to Trip's mouth. Malcolm brushed his lips across that smile, said, "I'm sorry," and used his shoulder to push Trip into the metal pole hard enough to knock him out.

"What the hell was that?" MacEwan turned around.

"He was struggling pretty hard. I guess he fainted." Malcolm blinked ingenuously and moved on with phase two of the plan. "I've got to say, Lieutenant, there aren't many people who can beat me in hand-to-hand combat."

"I guess I had the advantage," MacEwan admitted absently, turning back to the controls. Suppressing his nausea, Malcolm continued:

"I understand how you feel. He's a really great guy."

"If you're trying to change my mind..."

"I'm not." Malcolm forced a grin. "Ever seen him naked?" MacEwan turned around to stare at him. Malcolm, more frightened than he could remember being and loathing himself all the while, shrugged. "It's not like he's going to put up a fight."

"It's not him I'm worried about," MacEwan replied.

"What could I do to you?" He rattled his chains and leered. If he pulled this off, Malcolm thought, he was going to request an Academy Award. Or at least forgiveness from Trip. "I can assure you, it's quite the sight. But if you'd rather just drive us into the nebula..." MacEwan shook his head and waited. Malcolm did the same, hoping that it was going to work. Hoping that Trip didn't come to until they were safe. Hoping that, if MacEwan didn't fall for it and they died, they would at least end up somewhere together. Heaven or hell. Malcolm imagined both would be much the same with Trip in them.

MacEwan apparently had a similar belief, because, after an agonizingly long hesitation, he got up and moved to the back of the shuttle, phase pistol in hand. Staring suspiciously at Malcolm, he began to unzip Trip's uniform. It took all of Malcolm's willpower to sit still, smiling, as MacEwan pulled Trip's unresisting arms out of the jumpsuit. Malcolm felt physically ill as he watched, trying to look non-threatening, as MacEwan ran his hands over Trip's chest. Trip stirred a little, but thankfully didn't open his eyes. MacEwan hesitated, then, his breath quickening, removed Trip's T-shirt and the blue tank-top underneath. He paused, enjoying the view, then started to push down Trip's jumpsuit.

The plan was to wait until MacEwan was thoroughly engrossed in Trip's nether regions, but, even with his zen 'Art of War' training, Malcolm couldn't control himself that long. The top of Trip's blue underwear was barely in view when Malcolm drew on another aspect of his training, the six months under the tutelage of a master yoga instructor, and contorted himself to kick MacEwan in the kidneys.

He hadn't considered what might happen if the phase pistol fell out of his reach. Fortunately, that wasn't an issue. He picked it up with his slightly more available hand, the one attached to Trip, and shot MacEwan in the chest as he lay writhing. Then, aiming very carefully indeed, he used the phase pistol to slice through the leather restraint, unfastened the handcuffs more carefully (because those, he could imagine using again) and ran to the pilot's chair just in time to correct their course.

They were halfway back to 'Enterprise' when Malcolm heard a moaning behind him. He looked over to see Trip, half-naked and attached by one hand to the metal pole, blinking at the prone figure of MacEwan in front of him. Immediately, Malcolm went back to kneel beside him.


"Are you OK, Trip?" He ran a hand over Trip's forehead. Trip smiled, then winced.

"Did you...hit me?" Malcolm sighed.

"I'm very sorry." Trip shook his head, as if to clear it.

"It's OK. Looks like it was for a good cause." Malcolm gazed fondly at Trip, said:

"The best," and leaned in for a kiss.

"I just can't believe it." Captain Archer said, for the third time in as many minutes. "He's from MIT. MIT! And he's Admiral Forrest's godson."

"And he's a total nutjob. They aren't mutually exclusive, Captain." Trip had a large bruise on his forehead which caused Malcolm to wince every time he saw it. The bruises on his neck and collarbone, though, those ones Malcolm could look on with pride.

"And I sent you two off alone with him." The Captain furrowed his brows guiltily. "What if you'd been killed? I never would have forgiven myself."

"We weren't, sir," Malcolm pointed out helpfully.

"Thanks to Malcolm," Trip added.

"You played your part as well, Trip."

"Yeah, I guess. But I'm real glad I can't remember it." Trip turned his most brilliant grin on Malcolm and, heedless of the fact they were in the Captain's ready room with the Captain himself, continued: "There's only one person I want undressing me." Malcolm felt his cheeks begin to burn. Archer, though, just laughed.

"I suppose the two of you had better get some of that rest the doctor prescribed." Prescribed to Trip, anyway, who was suffering from a mild concussion. And a chafed wrist.

"I'm fine," Malcolm replied automatically, before he realized that a little rest might not be a bad thing. And not resting could be even better, as they'd discovered on the shuttle ride back to the ship.

"Thanks, Captain. See you at dinner."

"If you make it," the Captain called after them, as Trip pulled Malcolm from the room.

"Darlin', can I ask you something?" Trip shifted in the bed and looked down at Malcolm, who was doing his best not to pass out from pleasure. It was so much nicer to be fully conscious during the after-effects.


"What did Jon say that got you all pissed off at me?" Malcolm's eyes snapped open. He'd been expecting a question about what, exactly, Malcolm had been thinking when he'd decided to use Trip's body-and MacEwan's fixation on him---to save them both. To be honest, Malcolm couldn't have answered that. It hadn't seemed like a good idea, even at the time, but it had seemed like their only shot.

"He told me you've got a short attention span," Malcolm answered. "And that I shouldn't take it personally." Trip quirked his eyebrows, which stirred Malcolm all over again.

"What did you think he meant by that?"

"That you'd take off the minute I got boring. And when you started hanging about with MacEwan the next day..."

"I'm going to kill that bastard."

"He's already on his way back to Earth." Where, high-level connections or not, Hamish MacEwan would most likely be committed to an institution for a good long while.

"Not him. Jon. He didn't mean that."

"I thought..."

"I do get bored real fast, darlin'. But not with you. He meant with MacEwan. Jon knew he was a good looking guy with an accent." He had, Malcolm remembered, spoken on the comm with him that same evening. "He knows that's my type. He also knows that I've wanted you since the first time we met."

"Two years?" Malcolm hadn't imagined that. He'd only developed his crush within the last few months.

"More. Since that first press conference thing." Trip smiled. "I nearly jumped you right there in front of the world media."

"That would have made quite the Reuters item," Malcolm joked. Trip laughed and nudged Malcolm with his leg.

"After wanting you for that long, do you really think I'm gonna leave now I've finally got you?"

"Wouldn't be very logical," Malcolm agreed, a little cautiously. "But tell me one thing, love." Trip kissed him quickly on the lips.

"Anything, darlin'."

"He is a good-looking man."

"And..." Malcolm coughed.

"Before he went mad, did you ever think, even for a second..."

"No," Trip interrupted. "Not even for a second." He smiled. "You've got no competition, Malcolm." Malcolm smiled happily and snuggled in beside Trip.

"Just checking."

"Although," Trip continued, mock-thoughtfully, "He was real keen on those leather handcuffs..."


"Right. Sorry, darlin'." Malcolm wasn't. He was, in fact, as he lay cuddling Trip, seriously considering sending a thank you card to the Starfleet Hospital's psych ward, care of Admiral Forrest.



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