Author's Web site:
with Next Generation. Another transporter mishap leads to a temporary
switch in security officers. Trip makes friends with a Klingon and Malcolm
develops a crush on a counsellor.
Disclaimer: This is a nonprofit fanfic. No copyright infringement is intended or
should be inferred.
Comments: Answer to
the 10 000th post challenge (the Lamo one) and I guess a sort-of, really wussy
answer to the 11 000th post challenge (the infidelity one.)
EntSTSlash on 03/09/2003.
Trip*Malcolm with the author's express permission.
Malcolm was feeling a
little anxious. Ten days on a planet with Liz Cutler and a couple of crewmen,
keeping an eye out for unfriendly fauna while they gathered specimens, would do
that to a person. Not that Liz wasn't great. Malcolm liked her well enough, even
if he had grown tired of her enthusiasm for lichen after the first ten minutes.
But she didn't hog the blankets at night. She didn't roll over on him in her
sleep, she didn't eat his leftovers without asking, she didn't know how to make
him laugh uncontrollably, and she didn't, thankfully, know where to touch him to
make him lose control in another way. She wasn't Trip. And after ten days away
from him, he really missed Trip.
So when he heard his
voice on the communicator, Malcolm nearly swooned. Then, sternly reminding
himself he was an armoury officer and not a teenage girl, he answered it.
"How you doing down
there, Malcolm?" God, Malcolm thought. Ten days without hearing that voice, and
it felt like ten years.
"I think we're about
ready to leave." He was, regardless of whether the away team had gathered enough
weeds and algae to satisfy their botanical lust. Trip lowered his voice a little
and it was definitely Trip, and not Commander Tucker, who replied:
"That's good, cause I
think we're about ready to have ya back." Malcolm swallowed hard.
"We'll be leaving
just as soon as all the specimens are packed." And he was going to gently
'encourage' Liz and her helpers to get that done in record time.
"That's the problem,
Malcolm." Trip sighed. "There's a hell of a storm getting up. T'Pol thinks it'd
be too risky to take the shuttle." Malcolm glanced at the purple sky. Sure
enough, red and yellow clouds were gathering. That was the other thing that made
Malcolm so eager to leave Lamo IV. At first, the blue trees, the pink frogs and
the fluorescent orange mushrooms had been fascinating. Now, though, he felt like
he'd spent ten days on an acid trip. He needed to see some boring Starfleet grey
"What do you
"You could wait it
out," the strain in Trip's voice showed that option was about as appealing to
him as it was to Malcolm. "But that could take a while."
"What about the
comfortable with it..." He was. And he'd make sure the rest of the team was, as
Eager as he was to be
back on 'Enterprise' with Trip, Malcolm still had a job to do. He was the last
person transported back to the ship. He watched as Liz, the crewmen, and most of
the specimens shimmered and disappeared before him. Then, the transport stopped.
After what seemed like hours, but was actually only about ten minutes, Trip's
voice came over the communicator again.
"Sorry 'bout that,
Malcolm. Somethin' weird going on in the atmosphere." Malcolm didn't care about
meteorological phenomena, weird or otherwise. He wanted Trip. By which, he
corrected himself, he wanted to see Trip, and the ship, and the rest of the
crew. "T'Pol thinks maybe you should wait a little..."
"No!" Hoshi had done
it a few months ago, and nothing had happened to her. "I want get up there now."
"Aye, aye, sir." He
could hear the smirk in Trip's voice. He smiled in happy anticipation as he felt
Since he'd been gone,
there had clearly been some redecorating going on. Malcolm came to on a raised
platform, surrounded by blinking lights. A bald man he didn't recognize, wearing
black trousers and a black and red shirt with some strange insignia, blinked
back at him, looking as surprised as Malcolm felt.
"Mr. Data," the bald
man turned to another man, this one with a strange waxy pallor, who was standing
at a console. "This is not Lieutenant Worf." The waxy man cocked his head and
looked at Malcolm with interest.
"Indeed it is not."
In many ways, Charles
Tucker III was an old-fashioned man. He'd been raised to respect certain
standards of behaviour, and one of those standards dictated that, if you'd been
sleeping with someone for nearly three years, and if you felt about them the way
Trip felt about Malcolm, then the honourable thing was to do something about it.
Make a commitment. And Trip was very ready to commit to Malcolm.
Standing in the
shuttle bay, he wiped his sweating palms on his jumpsuit. He knew he should
probably be a gentleman and offer to help Liz cart her specimens down to
sickbay, but he wanted to be there when Malcolm came in. So he decided to be an
officer and a gentleman, instead, and directed two crewmen to help her.
Proposing in the
shuttle bay, in front of the Captain and T'Pol and a few crewmen he didn't know
by name, was out. While they'd made great strides with Malcolm's shyness, Trip
knew he wouldn't go for that, not in a million years. So instead, once Malcolm
had given the report Trip knew he would insist on delivering to the Captain,
they were going to head back to Malcolm's quarters. Where Malcolm would get into
the shower, alone because Trip didn't want to tire himself out for later, and
emerge to a private dinner of his favourite foods.
At first, the plan
had been for Chef to bake the simple, latinum engagement band into the pineapple
cake, but he had been dissuaded from that by the Captain's vivid description of
Malcolm choking to death on his own engagement ring. So instead, when Malcolm
took the silver lid off his smoked salmon, there would be a ring on the side of
the plate. And Trip hoped to God Malcolm would put it on.
He couldn't believe
how nervous he was. After all, Trip told himself sternly, this was Malcolm.
Malcolm, who knew every one of his annoying habits intimately, and, while he'd
frequently bitched about them, he still stayed with him. There was no reason to
think Malcolm didn't want commitment as much as Trip did. No reason, except for
the minor fact that they'd never seriously discussed formalizing their
He cleared his throat
as a shimmering light indicated the transport was coming through. The hell with
the Captain and T'Pol, he was going to hug Malcolm when he arrived. They hadn't
seen each other in ten days. Not even Malcolm could object to a little hug. He
was waiting, arms at the ready, when the transport completed and Trip found
himself staring at a Klingon.
"Jesus!" He jumped
back, glancing at Jon, who was gaping in a manner more befitting a goldfish than
a Starfleet captain. The Klingon gazed around the shuttle bay. Trip wished
Malcolm, or at least one of his security people, was there, but they had thought
this was going to be a routine transporting. Just as Trip was wondering if he
could call for help without being killed, the Klingon stiffened and, eyes
"I am Lieutenant Worf
of the Federation starship 'Enterprise.' That is the only information I will
Name, rank and ship.
That was all they were trained to give up, and Malcolm knew from experience that
it caused nothing but problems when you tried to get fancy with lies about
genetic modifications and the like. Trip had been furious when he'd heard the
story Jon and Malcolm had concocted to try and escape execution. Not that it had
worked. And not that Trip had been too angry to put that invisible hand to good
use when they got home.
Thinking of Trip,
Malcolm stood up straight and said:
"I am Lieutenant
Malcolm Reed of the Starfleet ship 'Enterprise.'" The bald man started a little,
and exchanged a glance with the waxy man. After a hesitation, the bald man
smiled and took a step forward. Instinctively, Malcolm stepped back, and the
bald man stopped, extending a hand instead.
"Lieutenant Reed. My
name is Jean-Luc Picard. I'm the captain of...this ship." He nodded at the other
man. "This is Lieutenant-Commander Data." The waxy man smiled in a way that
Malcolm found more than a little disturbing. Instinctively, he backed up until
he hit the wall. Picard's eyebrows furrowed a little, and he looked at Malcolm
with what Malcolm, if he hadn't known better, would have interpreted as concern.
"Lieutenant Reed, I
can assure you, you are perfectly safe on board my ship." He paused. "I think it
would be best if you could accompany me. There are...things we need to discuss."
The strange-looking man, Data, stood up, and Malcolm didn't see that he had much
choice. Data looked like the kind who could break half your bones without
exerting an effort, and Malcolm's strategy when faced with danger had always
been to keep as many of his bones intact for as long as possible.
The ship was unlike
anything Malcolm had ever seen. The walls were beige, and at intervals there
were electronic screens that Malcolm couldn't have interpreted even if he'd
spent all day looking at them. Everyone, he noticed, was wearing the same
insignia as Picard and Data, although some of them had blue shirts. Like the
woman who was awaiting them at their final destination, a computer-filled room
that reminded Malcolm of sickbay.
"Lieutenant, this is
Dr. Crusher," Picard introduced them. Malcolm was briefly proud to have
identified the room, then realized there was nothing to be proud of. It was just
a testament to how much time he spent in Phlox's sickbay. "Doctor, Lieutenant
Malcolm Reed." The doctor's eyebrows went up. Out of the corner of his eye,
Malcolm thought he saw Picard shake his head, and the doctor's eyebrows went
"Why don't you have a
seat here, Lieutenant?" Solicitously, Picard indicated what looked like a biobed.
"We'll just be a moment." Beckoning the doctor and Data with a jerk of his head,
Picard went into another part of sickbay, behind glass windows. Malcolm could
see them, but, despite his attempts to lip-read, he couldn't make out what they
were saying. After a few moments, another man, this one bearded, entered the
room and Malcolm saw him look over his shoulder, in Malcolm's direction, before
joining in the conversation.
A lot of people
thought Malcolm was fearless. That wasn't true. While, before 'Enterprise' and
at the beginning of the mission, he'd been willing to take great risks, stupid
risks some might say, that wasn't fearlessness, that was the feeling he had
nothing to lose. Now, he had a great deal to lose. A position he loved. A career
he was proud of. And Trip. Watching these people discussing him, Malcolm was
very afraid all of that was going to be taken away from him.
"Malcolm?" The woman
spoke softly, but Malcolm nearly jumped off the biobed anyway. "I'm so sorry. I
didn't mean to frighten you." She sounded genuinely regretful. Malcolm turned
towards the voice, and was met with a vision.
She was beautiful.
Long, wavy black hair, big eyes, an outfit that showed off more cleavage than a
typical string bikini. If they had been on 'Enterprise', Malcolm would have
requested she be reprimanded for unprofessional attire, but this wasn't
'Enterprise'. And, who he thought, trying not to drool, was he to judge the
clothing standards of an alien race?
"My name is Deanna,"
the goddess spoke, and Malcolm picked his tongue up off the floor. Only to lose
it again when Deanna smiled brightly and took one of his hands in hers. "I hope
we can be friends." Right, Malcolm thought boorishly, not even aware he sounded
like Trip on a bad day. Friends. If that's what they're calling it these days.
Jon was losing it,
Trip could see that. And he couldn't blame him. He was getting pretty sick of
the silent treatment, too, but since he didn't think that pissing off a Klingon
would do much to get Malcolm back, he pulled Jon aside.
"Why don't you take a
"I can't. That
forced a small smile. "Let me play good cop for a while."
"Do you really think
"I've got to try."
Laying a hand on his friend's shoulder, Archer sighed heavily and left the ready
Trip, who hadn't
thought of a plan much beyond that, looked at the Klingon. He had been sitting
in that chair, arms over his chest, for the better part of two hours. On the
rare occasions when he did speak, it was only to repeat that he was Lieutenant
Worf of the Federation ship 'Enterprise'. Which is exactly what he said when
Trip sat down on the Captain's desk.
"Yeah, I got it.
Thing is, that's not really helpin' us figure out how you ended up here." Worf
looked back, impassive. Trip ran a hand through his hair. The Captain had
already asked the Klingon what he'd been doing immediately before the transport,
if they could contact his Klingon ship, if he knew how said Klingon ship
happened to have the same name as this one. The answer to all had been silence.
So Trip decided to try a different tactic.
"Ya see, Lieutenant,
when you showed up, we were kinda expectin' someone else. Our Lieutenant.
Malcolm Reed." Trip wasn't really familiar with Klingons – they all looked the
same to him anyway-but it didn't seem like this one was impressed. He took a
deep breath and, hardly believing he was saying this to anyone, let alone a
Klingon, went on:
"Thing is, this guy,
Malcolm, he's real important to us. To me." He remembered hearing that Klingons
had sexual relationships, although he couldn't picture it. Nor did he want to.
"We're...mates," he admitted, not knowing if 'lovers' would be a word a Klingon
could understand. "I'd really like to get him back." He smiled, an
all-guys-together grin that had no visible impact on Lieutenant Worf. Still,
Trip soldiered on. "Do you have someone on your ship? Someone you really want to
see again?" The silence was prolonged. Just as Trip was about to give up and
call the Captain back in to scream for a bit, Worf uncrossed his arms.
"Great!" Trip jumped
on this, not pausing to wonder, at the moment anyway, why a Klingon woman would
have such a human-sounding name. "The way I figure things, if we work together,
we got a way better chance of getting back with Malcolm and...Deanna?" Worf
nodded brusquely. "Deanna." Trip grinned, then faltered on his pronouns. "I bet
"She," Worf snapped.
"I bet she's real
anxious to have you back, too. So, what were you doing right before you ended up
Malcolm was sitting
at one end of a long table, surrounded by people in those multi-coloured
uniforms. A black man with something over his eyes was to his right, and Deanna,
holding his hand comfortingly under the table, was to his left.
Picard, at the other end of the table, began, in a warm, friendly tone. "My
staff and I have spoken, and we believe there are certain things you need to
know. Hopefully, you will not become too alarmed." Deanna squeezed his hand and
Malcolm knew Picard could say anything and he wouldn't bat an eye. "Firstly, you
are in the twenty-fourth century."
"What?" Picard held
up a hand, and Malcolm, who obeyed superior officers no matter what century they
were in, shut up.
"I know it must be
difficult for you, Lieutenant. This is Starfleet's flagship." He hesitated a
little. "'Enterprise'." God, was Malcolm's first thought. Are they that
uncreative? Then he considered it a little more, and the significance of the
name sunk in.
"You'll understand we
can't go into details, Lieutenant. But we are doing everything we can to get you
returned to your ship, and to get our missing crewman returned to us. Lieutenant
Commander Data believes that the atmospheric storm over Lamo IV interfered with
the transport. He's looking into it as we speak, and Commander La Forge's
engineering team is making every effort to assist him. All our resources are
dedicated to this." Malcolm was touched, and felt a little bad. He hadn't been
raised to expect so much attention.
"I'm sorry to be an
inconvenience, sir," he apologized, automatically but sincerely. Picard looked
Lieutenant. It is our duty to one of Starfleet's pioneers." He got a look from
the bearded man when he said that, and continued quickly: "Meanwhile, I would
like you to be as comfortable as possible while on board our ship."
"Counsellor Troi can
show you to the guest quarters," the bearded man put in. Malcolm looked at the
still-smiling Deanna and, for a moment, he was tempted to ask if she came with
the quarters. Then he regained his senses.
"With all respect,
sir, I would prefer to help find a solution to this problem." After all, it was
his problem. Picard shook his head regretfully.
Lieutenant. We can't permit you to see any of our technology."
"But don't worry,
Malcolm," Deanna squeezed his hand again. "You and I can have a nice chat."
Malcolm's heart skipped a beat as he wondered why he was always drawn to the
beautiful, talkative types.
Malcolm had never had
much success with women. He was attracted by them, he just didn't know what to
say to them. Not that this was a problem reserved only for women. Until Trip,
Malcolm had never met anyone he felt comfortable talking to. Trip was very
comfortable, but even he seemed about as emotionally open as a Vulcan compared
"So you're lucky your
parents are distant," she told him, laughing, as they sat in guest quarters that
were more spacious than Captain Archer's. "At least they don't embarrass you.
Constantly." She had just finished relating an anecdote about her mother, who
seemed, to Malcolm at least, to be the most humiliating person in the world.
Apart, perhaps, from Trip's mother, who insisted on kissing the communication
screen every time she sent a message to her son. And who had told several
humorous toilet-training stories the first time Malcolm had spoken to her.
"At least she cares
about you, though." And at least Trip's mother cared about him. Malcolm
wondered, if his parents would even be bothered if he didn't get back to his own
ship. He was still having trouble wrapping his mind around the "his own time"
concept, so he chose to ignore that.
"You're cared about
as well, Malcolm." He knew that was true. Trip loved him. But for how long?
Until he stopped being a novelty? Until they left the ship? Until they didn't
have work in common anymore?
"Lovers come and go."
Truth be told, he'd rather have steady, familial love.
"Not always." Deanna
smiled secretively, like she knew something he didn't. Malcolm was reminded of
his smug married friends on Earth, and asked:
"Are you married?"
She blinked, like this was an abrupt change of subject.
"But you have a
partner." Probably some ridiculous he-man who didn't come close to appreciating
her, he thought. That was the way these things generally worked.
"Yes. He's the man
who is missing."
"Do you think he's on
my ship?" Deanna's smile, which had faded slightly, reappeared with a vengeance.
"If he is, I'm sure
they're taking excellent care of him." And if he looked anything like his
girlfriend, Malcolm thought, he hoped Trip wasn't taking too good care of him.
"I do not understand
why I am here. I would be of more use on the bridge." The Klingon perched on the
ridiculously small mess hall chair, arms over his chest once again.
"I think you were
makin' the Captain kinda nervous." And, truth be told, seeing a Klingon
standing, glowering, at Malcolm's station had made Trip nervous, as well. But
while Trip was used to working with distractions-he'd been doing it with Malcolm
for three years-the Captain needed to be able to focus. "We haven't had the best
experience with Klingons." Worf grunted and poked at his resequenced meatloaf.
Trip swallowed and continued: "I mean, I guess in the future there are Klingons
and Romulans and all sorts in Starfleet..."
"There are no
Romulans in Starfleet," Worf growled. Trip sighed.
"Sorry." Worf grunted
at his meatloaf again. Trip forced a smile, trying to sound friendly without
sounding like a ninny.
"So I guess things
are really exciting in the twenty-fourth century, right?" The Captain had nearly
died when Worf had admitted that little fact to them. Right away, Trip had
thought of Daniels, but Worf had never heard of him.
"I cannot tell you
anything about it, Commander."
"Right." And there
went a great big 'No Entry' sign onto that avenue of conversation. Trip would
have been tempted to leave Worf alone, but Jon had put him in charge of Klingon-sitting.
And, from the looks they were getting from the rest of the crew, and from the
looks Worf was giving them, it was a necessary job.
"Although the food is
better," Worf admitted. Trip looked up, wondering if that was a joke. Worf's
face was impassive, and Trip was reminded of the first time Malcolm had joked
with him. He'd told Trip he slept in his uniform, and it had been three hours
before Trip was certain he hadn't been serious. Of course, since then, Trip had
had plenty of opportunity to observe that situation first-hand. The memory
brought back thoughts of Malcolm, thoughts he'd been trying very hard to
repress. T'Pol was certain the atmospheric storm over Lamo IV had caused the
problem, but she didn't know how to fix it. Which meant that it was possible,
not likely, but possible, that Malcolm might never come back. And that really
wasn't worth thinking about.
"Deanna must be a
really special person," he said, vaguely, because he had to say something and
that was better than asking the question he wasn't thinking about. He hadn't met
many Klingon women, but he had to admit, Bu'kaH had been hot, in a scary kind of
conversation killer. Or so Trip thought, until Worf continued: "As is Malcolm, I
am sure." Trip nodded and felt himself beginning to choke up. Special didn't
begin to describe him.
"I was going to ask
him to marry me." Which said it all, right there. Trip knew most people, who
obviously had nothing better to discuss, considered Malcolm to be the more
experienced of the two of them. He wasn't. Until they'd met each other, Malcolm
had been straight and Trip had been indiscriminately promiscuous. Now look at
Worf replied, gruffly. Trip smiled.
"Do you think he's on
"I don't know," was
Worf's abrupt, not particularly comforting reply. Trip nodded. He wasn't about
to cry in front of a Klingon. He didn't even do that in front of Malcolm.
Although now, he was kind of wishing he had taken the chance when he'd had it.
Deanna had gone to
get them something to eat and Malcolm was alone, sitting on the couch and
looking out the window, when the door trilled. He got up to answer it, then
remembered he didn't have to and said:
"Come in." The door
helpfully opened itself and the engineer with the metal thing over his eyes
"We think we've got a
plan, Lieutenant." Malcolm looked at him. Out of politeness, he started off by
looking into his "eyes", but it was like staring into the grille of an antique
car. So he focused on the man's chest insignia instead. "But we need your help."
"We think if we
transport you back to the surface at the same time your ship transports Worf,
the wires might uncross themselves." It had taken that long to come up with
that? Malcolm sighed. Things didn't bode well for the future.
Malcolm replied, making sure to enunciate clearly.
"Thing is, we need to
do it before the atmospheric storm clears. And they have to do it at the same
Malcolm had an idea, but he asked anyway.
"We need to contact
them somehow. What ultra-frequency are your communicators positioned at?"
Malcolm had no clue. He just used the damn things.
"I'm not sure," he
admitted. Then added: "Trip would know," as if that was in any way relevant.
Commander Laforge hesitated, then said:
"If you don't mind me
asking...what's he like?"
Tucker. I mean, it's one thing to read about him in the history books, but to
meet someone who actually knew...knows him..." History books? Malcolm repeated
to himself. Dear God. There really was no hope for the future. Trying not to
sound too proud of Trip, he said:
"Most of the time,
he's actually rather irritating." But in a nice, comfortable, sexy way. "Sorry
to disappoint you." La Forge smiled widely, and Malcolm was briefly reminded of
Travis. Just one more reason to get back. If he wasn't around, it was quite
possible Mayweather might see some action from time to time.
It can't be easy being married to a scientific genius." Malcolm must have looked
surprised, because the smile disappeared from La Forge's face. "Shit. Did I get
my dates mixed up?" Malcolm had been so shocked to hear Trip, his Trip,
described as a scientific genius that the first part of the sentence had totally
escaped him. But now, thinking about it, that was even more interesting.
"No, it's fine," he
said, hoping to reassure the man.
"I'd better get back
to engineering. I'll let you know as soon as we know what we're doing." He left
quickly, so quickly he forgot a flat piece of electronic equipment on the table.
Picking it up, Malcolm was about to go after him, when he looked down and saw,
amid the lines of obscure technical formulas and writings, the words
'Tucker-Reed meta-synapses.' He had no idea what that meant, although, after
watching Deanna interact with the computer, he had an idea of how he might go
about finding out. Although he didn't know if he should.
"Our best chance is
if we transport Lieutenant Worf back to the surface at the same time as the
other ship transports Lieutenant Reed." It was the best idea they had come up
with so far, and, to Trip, that wasn't saying much.
"We don't even know
if Malcolm is on that ship." T'Pol glanced at him.
"I think that is an
assumption we have to make, Commander." Trip didn't know whether making that
assumption made him feel better or not. On the one hand, at least he was with
Starfleet people. On the other hand, what if the future Starfleet, a Starfleet
that had Klingons in it, was totally different from this one? "And we must act
fast. Within eight hours, the storm will have completely cleared and we will
have lost our chance."
"Couldn't we just
wait till the next one?" The Captain asked. T'Pol's eyebrow flickered a little.
"The next atmospheric
storm of this magnitude is predicted for the eleventh of April." The Captain
glanced at Trip.
"That's not so bad.
Sure, it's a few weeks, but..."
finished. The Captain didn't need to swear. Trip did it for him.
agreed. "Our most immediate problem is figuring out how to transfer a message to
this ship, letting them know when we will be effectuating the transport."
"I guess we can't
just send them an e-mail." T'Pol blinked.
"No, sir. However,"
she glanced at Worf, who, Trip was surprised to see, nodded back. "The
Lieutenant and I have come up with a plan."
Malcolm knew he
shouldn't. Pandora's box, and all that. Trip wouldn't. They'd once had a
conversation about it. Trip had been vehement that he wouldn't want to know what
the future held for him. But, on the other hand, he told himself, it wasn't like
he was looking up his own life. That would still be a surprise. He just wanted
to see what Trip had done to make engineers in the twenty-fourth century think
he was a genius.
And if he wanted to
find out, he was going to have to do it fast. Deanna had already been gone ten
minutes. Clearing his throat and feeling a little self-conscious, he announced:
"Computer," to the
empty room. A musical note indicated that the computer was listening. He coughed
again. "Could you...could you tell me about Charles Tucker the Third? Please?"
The computer beeped again.
Tucker the Third. Born 21 February, 2117. Died 11:55:12 PM, 17 March 2155.
Developer of the warp five, warp six and warp six point five engines. Inventor
of the Tucker warp plasma injector system. Father of Captain Madeline
Tucker-Reed, inventor of the Tucker-Reed meta-synapse. Spouse of Admiral Malcolm
Reed. Joined Starfleet 2139. Served as chief engineer on board the 'Enterprise
NX-01', 2151 to 2156, Captain Jonathan Archer. Served as chief engineer on board
the 'Olympian', 2158-2160, Captain Eliot Burgess. Served as chief engineer on
board the 'Copernicus', 2161-2164, Captain Malcolm Reed."
demanded. The computer complied. He sat down on the couch, trying to take it in.
He was going to marry Trip. They were going to have a daughter, Madeline, who
was going to be a Starfleet engineer. He, Malcolm, was going to become a
captain, then an admiral. He smiled. Career success and familial love.
Everything he'd always wanted. But something didn't feel right.
"Computer," he asked,
and it came to attention again. "Could you repeat that first part, please?"
"Please be more
specific." Malcolm sighed.
"Just say it again."
Tucker the Third. Born 21 February, 2117. Died 11:55:12 PM, 17 March 2155.
Developer of the warp five, warp six and warp six point five engines. Inventor
of the Tucker warp plasma..." March seventeenth 2155. The day he'd been
scheduled to come back from Lamo IV. Which meant that Trip was already dead.
"Stop." He bit his
lip. "Later, you said that he served on ships after 'Enterprise'. So how could
he have died in 2155?"
"Please rephrase your
"How can we have a
child if Trip's already dead?"
"Please rephrase your
query." Malcolm rubbed his eyes, not entirely surprised to find that computers
weren't much more helpful in the twenty-fourth century than they were in the
twenty-second. 11:55:12 PM. He couldn't understand the clocks or the calendars
they had on this ship, but that had to be soon. It had been about three in the
afternoon when he'd tried to transport back to 'Enterprise', and that had been
several hours ago now.
"Here we go,
Malcolm." Deanna reappeared, tray in hand. "Guinan was dying to meet you, but I
told her we couldn't risk it, unfortunately. She sent some of her special
pineapple cocktail along as compensation. She wanted to add a little Spanish
fly, but I told her..." Deanna set the tray on the table in front of Malcolm,
who barely saw it. Spanish fly. Spanish Armada. The conversation he'd had with
Trip when they'd found that thirty-first century ship. Years ago now, back when
they were both still in the closet and had still been making a point of acting
ultra-straight in public, even when there was no one around to hear. Trip, who
didn't want to know what was going to happen to him. Malcolm, who did. And Trip
who knew that.
"Deanna, could you
get Commander La Forge, please?" She blinked her beautiful eyes at him, and
Malcolm felt his heart skip a beat. Then promptly return to its original rhythm,
when he reminded it that they were going home, to the twenty-second century and
"Of course, Malcolm.
What is it?"
"I know when my ship
is going to transport your partner."
"I wish you could
tell me what you did." Trip tried not to sound sulky, but it was hard. He hated
being out of the loop, especially when the loop could very well end up forming a
noose around Malcolm's neck. T'Pol was unmoved.
"Commander, I have
told you, it would not be wise."
Worf put in. Which might have been more convincing, Trip thought, if it hadn't
come from a Klingon.
"Captain, I don't
think..." Jon stopped Trip with a hand on his shoulder and comforted him with
the same mindless, almost denial-ridden, platitudes he always favoured in crisis
"Relax, Trip. We'll
get him back."
"How?" The Captain
T'Pol seemed to be
very sure of herself, which Trip supposed was something. She was usually right.
"It was nice meeting
you," Trip said, automatically, as Worf prepared for transport. It was true. It
was especially nice to know that, by the twenty-fourth century, there was at
least one less enemy to watch out for. Although Trip had no doubt they'd met
many new ones.
"Indeed." Worf looked
at him. "I hope things go well between you and Malcolm."
"You and Deanna,
too." For a brief, insane moment, Trip wondered if he should hug him. Then,
deciding he'd rather not lose the use of both arms, he limited himself to a wave
as Worf dissipated.
Malcolm tried not to
breathe too deeply as Deanna hugged him.
"Good luck, Malcolm."
"Thanks." He smiled
at her, deciding not to think about how nice it had been to have some
breasts-especially ones as awe-inspiring as Deanna's-pressed against him, and
Picard thrust a hand in his direction. Malcolm regretted leaving him as well. He
hadn't seen much of Picard, but he seemed like the kind of captain Malcolm could
"I'm only sorry you
couldn't stay longer, Lieutenant. I would have loved to hear a first-hand
account of the Suliban War of 2160."
Reed," the bearded man, whose name Malcolm never had learned, put in, and a
moment later, Data pressed a button and he felt himself disappearing.
If it didn't work,
Trip was going to kill himself. Well, maybe not, but he was definitely going to
leave the ship. Hess could take over. They needed more women in command
positions, anyway. But he really hoped it was going to work.
The seconds-and it
was only seconds-between the disappearance of Lieutenant Worf and the appearance
of Lieutenant Reed was the longest period of Trip's life. Trip couldn't breathe.
He couldn't even bear to look. The consummate Starfleet professional, he stood
in the launch bay, his eyes tightly shut, until he felt an arm around his waist
and a familiar voice in his ear.
"Miss me?" He opened
his eyes and kissed Malcolm hard. Then, abandoning his grand plan of private
romance, he dropped to one knee in front of T'Pol and the Captain (but more
directly in front of Malcolm) and ordered:
"Marry me." Malcolm
smiled, not looking the slightest bit embarrassed.
"Of course." Trip
kissed him again, longer this time. When they finally broke apart, he decided he
had to ask.
"Hey, did you meet
someone called Deanna?" Malcolm started a little, and Trip relaxed. Clearly, she
had been a typical, ball-busting Klingon woman.
"Her boyfriend was
here." Malcolm raised an eyebrow.
too...attractive, I hope." Trip choked.
"I managed to
smile went right to Trip's crotch, making a brief pit stop at his heart on the
way. "So did I."
Malcolm left Trip
exhausted and asleep and, pulling on jeans and a shirt, went to find T'Pol. She
was alone on the bridge, looking at scans.
didn't look up from her computer.
"What brings you
here? I would have expected you and Commander Tucker to be...otherwise occupied
"I wanted to thank
you. How did you know..."
"It was Lieutenant
Worf's idea. He suggested that we send a message to the future by saving
erroneous information in Commander Tucker's personnel file."
"So that mistake was
in there for...two hundred years? What if someone had noticed?" If Malcolm
hadn't known her so well, he would have thought he saw T'Pol smile.
database is not known for the accuracy of its personnel files. I doubted that
would change in two centuries."
"But what if..."
"It was a calculated
risk, Lieutenant." He could appreciate that. He'd done much the same thing
himself, in the launch bay earlier in the evening.
was, to use a technical parental term, a handful. Three years old, and the only
thing that could keep her attention, apart from disassembling all of her
father's prototype plasma injector systems, was the video of her parents'
shipboard wedding. Specifically, Malcolm was horrified to note, the part where
the karaoke-hogging Captain Archer had broken into a drunken rendition of "I'm
Too Sexy." Which was only slightly better than his drunken rendition of "Danny
"How was she today?"
Trip came home late, as usual, after Madeline was in bed and Malcolm had tried,
unsuccessfully for hours, to get "I'm Too Sexy" out of his head.
"Same as always." He
leaned back on the couch as Trip went into kiss his daughter goodnight. He
emerged a few minutes later, wearing the same sort of dreamy, touched expression
parents always wore when they only saw their children sleeping.
"She's like a little
agreed. A blonde, blue-eyed, destructive angel. "Wait till you see what she did
to your new plasma injector."
"What!" Trip's eyes
"Just kidding. I
sacrificed my eardrums for your work." Trip collapsed onto the couch next to
"And I appreciate
"You want co-inventor
"I'd settle for
something a little more immediate." Laughing, Trip positioned himself until
Malcolm's head was resting on his lap. After a moment of very nice stroking, and
just as Malcolm was getting in the mood for a little more physical gratitude,
Trip said: "I wonder what she's gonna be when she grows up."
"Come on, Malcolm.
It's been years..."
"I swore I wouldn't
tell. T'Pol was very insistent."
"Fuck T'Pol." Malcolm
smiled up at Trip.
"If you want, but
she's on Vulcan and I'm right here."
"I thought you didn't
want to know. Remember that conversation about our future wives? You were
adamant you wouldn't want to hear it."
"That was cause I
already knew who I was gonna marry. And I was right." Malcolm raised an eyebrow,
knowing that Trip wasn't serious. It was tradition, and had been almost from the
very moment Malcolm had come back from the twenty-fourth century.
aren't you?" Trip smiled and abandoned that line of questioning for now. Hell,
he thought. He had twenty years to talk it out of Malcolm. Right now, he could
think of better things to do with his tongue.
"Very. You've never
complained about it before."
"It's why I love
you," Malcolm agreed and let his eyes slide closed. He'd been right. Familial
love was the best, especially if you could combine it with regular hot sex.
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