Title: Taking Notice
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Summary: Episode tag for
This is a nonprofit fanfic. No copyright infringement is intended or should be
Comments: This bunny
hopped someplace I didn't expect him to--it was supposed to be fluff and an
excuse for the boys to get mushy with each other. But the bunny had other ideas.
Archived to EntSTSlash
Trip*Malcolm with the author's express permission.
It had been a long,
stressful few days and Malcolm Reed, chief armory officer of the Enterprise, was
very glad that they were over. He was more than ready for the endless emergency
shift he'd been on to be done with so he could go back to his quarters and get
some real rest. He punched in the code to open his door more by autopilot than
memory..and stopped dead just over the threshold when he saw the ship's chief
engineer sprawled face down across his neatly made bed, hair wet from a recent
shower, dressed only in a pair of gray sweat pants and apparently sound asleep.
The armory officer smiled and moved to the side of the bed, sitting on the edge
gingerly so as not to wake the sleeping man. He brushed damp blond hair away
from Tucker's bruised face tenderly, the gentle touch belying the fury that
boiled within him at the sight of the damage done to his lover. What was it
going to take before the captain would listen to him and take security along on
away missions? Archer claimed to be afraid to offend the races they contacted by
showing distrust, but Reed knew--knew!--that the only ones who were going to be
offended were the ones who shouldn't be trusted in the first place. Was someone
going to have to be killed on one of these 'peaceful' missions before the
captain would see reason?
A lump rose in his
throat. And was it going to have to be Tucker? He'd just found the love of his
life, was he going to be forced to see it sacrificed to Archer's stubbornness?
Reed reined his thoughts
in with an effort; they served no purpose, as the Vulcans would say. Trip was
here, he was fine, they'd dodged the bullet again and that was all that
mattered, right? His hand drifted down to the bare skin of one warm shoulder,
feeling the faint heat of the bruise under his palm. "Fell on this side, did
you?" he asked softly, grimacing. "Bet there's another one on your hip under
these pants you say match my eyes, isn't there?" His hand moved lower, finding
traces of more damage creeping out from underneath Tucker's right arm, following
the lines of the engineer's ribs up to his spine and from there back up to his
shoulders. The sleeping man stirred slightly and emitted a little groan but
didn't wake, and Reed shook his head. "Bloody fool," he accused with affection.
"I should just leave you like this, let you wake in the morning stiff and sore."
Reaching back with his other hand, the armory officer tabbed the intercom. "Reed
The panel hissed. "Phlox
here," the doctor answered, pleasant as usual. "Is there something you need,
Reed chuckled. "Not me
personally, no. I was wondering if you might make a house call, though?"
A pause. "Commander
"Sound asleep. I didn't
like to wake him, I'm sure he needs the rest after the past few days he's had."
"Yes, I'm sure he does,"
Phlox agreed. "Very well, Lieutenant, I'll be there directly. I'm assuming
you've had a look at him?"
Reed answered the
indirect request for more details as well as he could. "Bruises, a fair number
of them," he said, pushing down the anger again. "He's lying on his stomach so I
haven't seen what his front looks like, but when he shifted a bit just now he
seemed pained by the movement." He squinted down at the arm lying closest to
him. "And he has what look like minor burns on his wrists."
Phlox made a thoughtful
noise. "Sounds like mostly topical damage, then. Thank you, Lieutenant, I know
what I should need now. I believe after I'm done with your 'house call' I should
probably pay one on the captain as well, he most likely has similar injuries.
Reed switched the
intercom off and turned back to his sleeping lover, his hand once more finding
its way into the thick blond hair. And he stayed that way until the door chimed.
It was Phlox, as he'd
known it would be--Sickbay was fairly close to Reed's quarters. "Lieutenant,"
the doctor greeted him quietly. The Denobulan moved around to take up a position
on the opposite side of the bed and set the case he'd been carrying on the desk
before running sharp eyes as well as a hand-scanner over his patient. "He's been
in this position since you came in?" When Reed nodded the doctor snorted softly.
"Guarding--he's protecting the right side of his chest, hence the awkward
positioning of his right arm. Let me just put some ointment on the bruises we
can see and then we're going to have to turn him over."
The Denobulan fished in
his case and pulled out a tube which when uncapped proved to be filled with a
thick blue cream. "This is amazing stuff," he informed Reed as he rubbed the
cream into the bruises. "I picked it up on Risa, something they developed to
serve the needs of certain elements of their pleasure-seeking clientele. By
tomorrow night most of these bruises will have vanished completely although some
soreness will remain for a day or two" Next he moved on to Tucker's wrists,
clucking over the burns and pulling out another tube, this one filled with green
gel. "The restraints used by the Enolians are doubtless designed for beings with
thicker skin than a human has; the pain-causing function is not supposed to
damage the dermal tissue of the prisoner." A little gasp from the armory officer
had him glancing up from his work. "Lieutenant?"
Reed swallowed. "Pain
causing..you mean, like an electric shock?"
"Similar, yes," the
doctor told him matter-of-factly. "When the circuit is closed, the prisoner's
body becomes the conductor for the flow of released energy--strong enough to be
painful but not so strong as to cause permanent damage in short doses. But
again, the settings used would have been calibrated for a more physically
resistant species." Phlox sighed. "I did not observe any overt signs of
neurological damage in either Commander Tucker or the captain, but I will of
course double check to make sure."
"Of course," Reed echoed
numbly. The fury was back, writhing like a live thing in his chest, barely
containable. Not only had his lover been assaulted, captured and
imprisoned..he'd also been tortured. "How many shocks was he given, do you
The question came out
harsh, and Phlox looked up thoughtfully at Reed before returning his attention
to his work. "I would guess it only happened once or twice, Lieutenant. These
burns are very minor."
Reed just nodded,
reluctantly withdrawing his hand from his lover's hair when the doctor nudged it
out of the way and began to treat the other burned wrist. He couldn't seem to
decide what to do with the freed hand, as though holding on to Tucker had been
its only purpose, and he finally clasped it with the other one just to keep it
still. When Phlox was finished Reed reached out again, this time brushing his
restless fingers over Trip's lax ones, but he started slightly when the doctor's
hand inserted itself into the blond hair and began to feel carefully through it.
"There it is, as I was
expecting," the Denobulan said with a sigh. "He's got a bump on his head, here
just above his right temple. I'd assume it's from a fall rather than a direct
blow, most likely from the same fall connected with some of these other injuries
along his right side. We'll know when we turn him over. Now if you'd assist me,
Lieutenant, very carefully now."
The armory officer's
hands were shaking as he oh so carefully helped the doctor roll Tucker over onto
his back; the engineer's eyelids fluttered, and the sigh that parted his lips
allowed a pained groan of protest to escape as well. "Mal? Jus' let me sleep, 'kay?
I'll be a'right t'morrah, promise."
The source of the
creeping, guarded bruise was now visible, and there was no mistaking the
circular bruise-burn created by a high-frequency energy weapon. More bruising
had also crept across the engineer's sternum, and lower down several ribs were
highlighted the same way. Reed's fingers hovered over the most livid area
without touching, recognizing it as evidence of a kick from a booted foot, and
his lips thinned into a hard line. "You need to tell us what happened on the
A sliver of blue
appeared, squinting up at him. "Can't it wait?"
The armory officer
steeled himself against his lover's plaintive tone. "No, it can't."
"Yes, it can for the
moment" Phlox contradicted, startling Reed again. "Commander, why didn't you
inform me of the extent of your injuries when I asked earlier? You can hardly go
on duty tomorrow like this and I know for a fact that your scheduled shift
starts at 0700."
Tucker snorted softly.
"Been a prisoner for a couple 'a days now, Doc, I jus' needed to be home for a
bit." He tried to push himself up onto his elbows but Phlox held him down and he
gave way with a sigh, too tired and sore to fight back. "I'm all right, they're
just bruises." He turned his head to look up at his lover, blinking up at him
remorsefully. "Didn't mean ta worry ya, Mal, I just needed."
"I understand, luv,"
Reed interrupted softly, his fingers tracing Tucker's cheekbone, stopping just
short of the bruised abrasion at his temple. "I'm just not happy about the state
The engineer gripped his
lover's arm with his left hand. "You were worse off than this after the Suliban
got done with you, it just goes with the job."
It was the wrong thing
to say. Tucker's eyes widened when the armory officer snorted bitterly, "It
doesn't go with your job, Commander."
"He has a point," Phlox
agreed mildly, his noncommittal tone neatly capping the rising tension in the
room as he continued conversationally, "but there will be other times to discuss
that issue. Right now I believe you should report the details of your capture
and subsequent imprisonment to the lieutenant here while I treat these injuries,
Mr. Tucker, and then I'm going to give you something for the pain so that you
can sleep. Please begin."
Tucker blinked at him in
surprise and then did as he was told. He didn't actually have much to tell; he
and Archer had heard about the smuggling problem while they were meeting with
the diplomats and so hadn't been overly concerned when the patrol ship had
appeared and requested to board and search. When they were immediately accused
of being smugglers Archer had tried to reason with them and had been clubbed
down with the butt end of a pistol, laying open a gash on the side of his head
from hairline to cheekbone. That had been when Tucker had entered the fray in
earnest, trying to protect his captain, but after some vicious and fairly dirty
scuffling he'd been overpowered and dragged off the shuttle. He vaguely
remembered the guards doing something to Archer's wound that stopped the
bleeding, but he hadn't really come back to full alertness until they were both
hauled in with the other prisoners and the restraints were put on. And then
they'd waited, helpless, until Kuroda and his Nausican partner had taken over
the ship and Archer had managed to convince them that they needed his help. "It
was that damn blabbermouth sittin' next to me that blew the whole plan," he
finished up with, scowling and then wincing when the expression pulled at the
bruised and torn corner of his mouth. "Yelled out and got me shot and then he
was still talkin' when I came to, seemed to think I should be grateful to him
for the whole thing. If I'd had to sit there another day next to him I think
I'd've blown up the damn ship just to shut his mouth."
Phlox nodded. "I do
recall that individual, he asked me if I could do something about replacing some
missing toes. He was extremely annoying even in the short time I had to deal
with him, you have my sympathies for having to be imprisoned alongside him. And
now," he pulled out a hypo and adjusted it, "I believe it's time for you to get
some rest." He paused, though, before the hypo touched the side of Tucker's
neck, and to the engineer's surprise patted his unbruised cheek. "I know I do
not always appear to understand human behavior," the doctor informed him
quietly. "But the need to feel secure after a traumatic experience is universal.
Next time don't be afraid to tell me; I'll understand and I promise I'll do
everything in my power to accommodate you, all right?" The Denobulan's voice was
low, sincere. "I'm your doctor, Mr. Tucker, and your well-being means more to me
than my convenience. You can trust me."
Tucker nodded, blue eyes
wide..and then the hypo hissed and he was out before he could say a word. Phlox
did a little more prodding at the deeper bruises and applied his salve to the
damage on the engineer's face before pulling the blanket up and tucking it
around the sleeping man carefully. "He'll sleep until morning," he told Reed,
standing up and stuffing the hypo back into his bag. The doctor was smiling his
usual smile, but it seemed a little forced. "Try not to leave him alone for very
long at a time, though, just in case--I want him to stay in bed for at least
twelve hours. I'm going to go check on the captain now, but I'll stop back by a
little later." He paused at the door, though, and looked back at the armory
officer with an odd, almost calculating expression. "Lieutenant, had you been
aboard the shuttle..do you believe the outcome would have been the same?"
Reed's gray eyes
darkened and his jaw set. "No," he said in a flat voice. "Had I or anyone else
from Security been present I can honestly say the entire incident would not have
Phlox nodded once,
sharply. "Thank you, Lieutenant."
And then he was gone.
Reed stared at the closed door a moment, wondering at the odd exchange, and then
kicked off his boots a little more violently than was his habit and carefully
settled himself on the side of the bed, one hand going back to his lover's hair
while the other snagged a padd off the nightstand. "Bloody well wouldn't have
happened," he snarled under his breath. "But I'm quite sure it will happen
It was not quite an hour
later that the door signaled the doctor's return. Malcolm was surprised when
Phlox pulled the captain into the room with him, but he wasn't half as shocked
as Archer was. "What..what's Trip doing in Reed's bed?!"
"This is where he feels
most secure," the doctor replied firmly before Reed could gather himself enough
to answer. The armory officer and the engineer had gone to great pains to
conceal the romantic side of their relationship from the rest of the crew--even
Phlox only knew because it had been necessary for him to. The doctor wasn't
worried about that at the moment, though, and he ignored the dawning
comprehension on Archer's face. He gestured peremptorily at Reed. "Mr. Reed, if
you would pull back the blanket please?"
understood what was going on. He drew the blankets down to Tucker's waist,
feeling like he was violating his lover's privacy even though he saw the need.
Then he looked back at Phlox, unable to so much as meet his captain's eyes with
Tucker's patchwork of bruises exposed right there beside him; he did hear Archer
gasp, though, and a very petty surge of satisfaction welled up inside him. "I am
assuming proof was required before the commander could be excused from his next
shift?" he asked coolly.
Archer actually flinched
at the question, and Phlox shook his head. "I wanted the captain to see the
consequences of his idealism," he answered flatly. He turned his very reproving
gaze on the captain. "Well?"
"I didn't know." Archer
looked absolutely sickened. "That happened on board the shuttle?"
"And aboard the prison
transport. Replace the blankets, Mr. Reed, I don't want my patient getting
chilled--you know how sensitive Mr. Tucker is to variations in temperature."
Reed almost flinched in
sympathy with his captain that time; apparently the doctor didn't pull any
punches when he was angry. He pulled up the blankets again and tucked them back
in around his lover tenderly. He could feel Archer's eyes on him, but he
couldn't really bring himself to care what the man thought at this point. "So is
he relieved from duty tomorrow?"
Archer found his voice.
"Of course he is," he stammered quickly. "I mean, he couldn't work like..like
that, and I wouldn't ask him to. If I'd known."
"But you didn't, so that
oversight can be excused." Malcolm's mouth dropped open; Phlox had gone from
reproof to reprimand and his expression said he didn't expect to be challenged.
"What cannot be excused, however, is your refusal to take the necessary
precautions that would have prevented this incident from occurring at all."
The captain's mouth
thinned into a hard line--at the doctor's tone and his implication. "Am I to
assume you've been discussing this with Lieutenant Reed?" he snapped.
"It sounds as though you
already have--assumed it, that is," Phlox countered, not backing down. "But your
assumption would be incorrect. I formed my own conclusions after hearing the
commander's account of how he received his injuries, and then I asked our ship's
chief security officer a single question: could the presence of a member of
ship's security on the mission have prevented those events from occurring."
Archer shot a hard look
at Reed, who stiffened. "I answered in the affirmative, sir," he said. The
repercussions for this sort of honesty could be harsh--he hadn't missed the way
the captain had emphasized his rank--but he wasn't going to lie. "A security
officer would have been able to control the boarding party while you contacted
the council offices on the planet for official verification of your identities.
There never would have been any prison transport and the commander would not
have been beaten, tortured and shot. And I understand that you received some
rather harsh treatment yourself."
"Not like Trip, no. I
was on the bridge most of the time, flying the ship. And what happened on the
shuttlepod..I don't remember much." Archer bit his lip. "They fixed me up aboard
the prison transport, I just assumed they helped him too."
"The guards apparently
rendered medical assistance to you because you were bleeding rather profusely,"
Phlox informed him. "Commander Tucker vaguely recalled watching them repair the
gash on your face before the two of you were dragged into the main portion of
the transport to join the other prisoners."
The captain looked
thoughtful and a bit dismayed for a moment, and then he shook it off. "I'll make
sure to add that to my report, that's something we'll need to remember about the
Enolians." His scowl returned. "But as for the way I handle away missions, that
is none of your concern, Doctor--and the lieutenant was overstepping his
authority by discussing it with you." "No, actually he was not--you might want
to read the rule book before you attempt to quote it," Phlox countered drily.
"The safety and well-being of the crew are my responsibility within certain
established parameters, parameters which just so happen to encompass this very
situation. And under those same regulations the lieutenant here makes regular
reports to me regarding issues that could be of concern, such as individual
progress in the mandatory combat training sessions and the number and type of
injuries incurred on away missions. I in turn integrate his information into my
own report, just as I do the safety data submitted to me by each department head
on the ship. So you see, I am well within my authority to request information
from the ship's chief of security any time I deem it necessary and he is
required by regulations to cooperate with me fully."
Archer still looked
suspicious. "I don't make reports to you, and you've never asked me for one."
"You're not a department
head, sir," Reed answered him. "Sub-Commander T'Pol is responsible for the
bridge crew reports."
"For all the good it
does me to read them," Phlox snorted. "The Sub-Commander can be very insightful
when she chooses to..but she doesn't often choose to. Luckily Commander Tucker
has taken it upon himself to supplement her reports with his own." He cocked an
eyebrow at the startled captain. "Yes, taken it upon himself--don't look so
surprised. He had legitimate reason to be..concerned when she was put in his
place as second in command of this ship, because some of the duties and
responsibilities of the ship's First Officer are not well carried out by someone
who has no clear understanding of human behavior and no real sympathy for human
"She's learning." Archer
"She wasn't learning
fast enough," Phlox cut him off. "But as the situation was addressed from the
beginning it has never become an issue worthy of concern." His frown came back.
"Unlike the issue of away team security protocols."
In spite of himself,
Archer went on the defensive. "Starfleet Command told me before we started all
this how they wanted things to be handled."
"Begging your pardon,
sir, but Starfleet Command is not out here," Reed interrupted him, earning
himself another scowl but not really caring all that much about it--in for a
penny, in for a pound, as his mother would have said. "They're concerned with
the political ramifications of what we do and I don't deny that is an important
consideration..but your first responsibility is supposed to be to your crew. As
is mine, and the doctor's and--position notwithstanding--the commander's. As
captain you are the heart of this ship, sir, and the rest of us are here to be
your eyes and ears and hands; we have to work together seamlessly to keep the
ship and crew functioning properly."
Archer just stared at
him, stunned. The words had been so passionate, there was so much conviction
behind them..had Tucker awakened this in the armory officer? Or had it always
been there, hiding behind the firm, professional fašade Reed presented? He
suspected it had always been there, and that Tucker had just seen it when nobody
else had bothered to look. "That's..a very apt sentiment, Lieutenant Reed," he
said slowly. He wasn't angry any more--irritated, slightly, but no longer angry.
"With an attitude like that, you'll make a fine captain yourself someday."
He'd expected the
compliment to generate embarrassment and Reed's usual polite gratitude, and so
he was surprised when the armory officer's response was to look away, biting his
lip. Phlox interrupted, however, before he could question the unusual reaction.
"I believe we've gotten this as settled as it's going to be for the time being,"
he said. "But I think perhaps it would be wise to call a meeting tomorrow to
further discuss the issue of security versus diplomacy and how best to improve
the working relationships among the senior staff. Commander Tucker will be free
to join you directly after lunch, so you might want to arrange it then." He
turned back to Reed. "Remember what I said, Lieutenant, he needs to stay in bed
resting for a full twelve hours--and I do mean resting, not just physically
being in the bed. You will quote me on that, I hope, when the commander tries to
persuade you to skirt the boundaries of my order."
Reed smirked slightly, a
faint wash of color crossing his face. "I will quote you, Doctor. But I believe
I can handle him."
"I have every faith in
you," the doctor commended. "Now get some rest yourself, Lieutenant, you have a
big day ahead of you tomorrow."
"Yes sir," was the
reply. "Good night Doctor, Captain."
Lieutenant," Archer answered before Phlox hustled him out of the room. Once out
in the corridor, however, he rounded on the doctor. "I think you and I need to
have a briefing of our own, and before tomorrow, Doctor," he insisted quietly
but firmly. "Just how long have you known about them?"
"Since the beginning, of
course--I am their physician," Phlox replied calmly. "They deemed it wise to let
me know of the change in their relationship due to the physical aspect involved.
But if you are attempting to ascertain how long the two of them have been
coupled, that is a question doctor-patient confidentiality will not allow me to
answer. You'll have to ask them yourself."
"If they'll answer."
They were walking back toward Sickbay now, Archer more following the doctor than
going along with him. "I have to admit to being surprised that Trip hasn't told
me himself already. He used to tell me everything."
"You used to not be his
captain, either," the doctor observed. He waited to say more until they were
safely behind the soundproof glass doors of Sickbay. "Surely you realized,
Captain Archer, that the changes in your professional relationship would
necessitate changes in the personal one as well?"
"I should have, I
guess." Archer brushed that aside. "I guess I just hadn't really thought much
about it. And Trip's gone out of his way to keep things normal between us." He
trailed off, eyes widening slightly as a new thought struck him. "Like a good
first officer does."
Phlox nodded. "Yes,
quite--the first officer is the keeper of the captain's humanity under the
dehumanizing pressures of command, and the release valve for his personal stress
as well. Something else Starfleet Command failed to take into consideration when
they conceded to the Vulcan High Command's demand to have a high-ranking
representative within the command staff of Enterprise. Although I'm sure at
least some of the deciding officials took into account that Commander Tucker
would no doubt pick up on those intangible duties that Sub-Commander T'Pol was
not equal to fulfilling."
"She's learning," Archer
repeated again, even though the doctor's comment had not been accusatory. "She's
come farther than I would ever have expected from Vulcan on a ship full of
"Yes, quite," Phlox
agreed. "Now as it's getting late and we both have quite the day ahead of us
tomorrow. I believe there was something else you wanted to ask me, Captain?
Perhaps about Lieutenant Reed's reaction to your well-meaning compliment on his
grasp of what it means to command?"
introspective gaze sharpened. "You don't miss much, do you?" The Denobulan just
smiled and shook his head, and the captain sighed. "Well, I guess that's a good
thing since it seems like I'm missing one out of every two. So tell me what you
know about it..or can you?"
"That particular topic
does not fall under the bounds of my professional ethics," the doctor told him,
only to dash his hopes immediately by adding, "Just my personal ones. But I
believe I can skirt that particular quagmire enough to set you on the right
track. What do you know about the lieutenant's family, Captain?"
"I know they don't know
him very well, and they haven't been in contact with him for a long time,"
Archer answered slowly, watching Phlox as he did so. "He's their oldest son and
they didn't acknowledge his birthday. I don't think he's ever received any
communication from them since we've been out here--not even when news reports
back home had everyone else's families flooding Communications with messages."
The doctor's expression seemed to be encouraging him to go on, so he thought
harder. "They didn't want him in Starfleet, he was supposed to follow family
tradition and join the Navy." More encouragement. "His father is a captain in
the Royal Navy." the slightest widening of the doctor's smile, and the lightbulb
came on, ".and Malcolm is still a lieutenant even though it's obvious the man
groomed him for command. Family connections?"
"I understand the
lieutenant's father is quite well-connected..and very disapproving of his son,"
Phlox answered noncommittally. "And isn't it rather odd that in spite of all the
commendations he's received since coming to serve on Enterprise no mention has
ever been made of raising his rank?"
"Yes it is, very odd."
Archer grimaced. "Of course, I might have noticed that sooner if I'd been half
the captain I'm supposed to be."
"Now, now," Phlox
soothed him. "I don't believe until tonight you were fully cognizant of your
failures in that area--not that I'm excusing them, but what matters most now is
that you try to remedy the problems you have now been made aware of. And you
have a fine staff to assist you with that, if I do say so myself."
"I'd have to say you're
right," Archer agreed. He yawned. "And you're also right about that long
tomorrow, so I'd better be getting to bed. Thank you for the..enlightening
evening, Doctor. I'll call you for the meeting after lunch."
"I will be prepared, I
assure you." Phlox moved across the room, checking on one of his animals that
was making a high-pitched squeaking sound. "Good night, Captain Archer."
"Good night, Doctor."
Phlox heard the doors close behind his
captain and only then did he turn away from the cage--the animal hadn't needed
his attention, he'd just used it as a convenient way to withdraw his focus from
Archer so that the man would go back to his room. To think, hopefully. The
Denobulan moved over to another occupied tank, this one holding several round
balls of fur; he picked one up and stroked it, absorbing the soothing
purr--their calming effect on the central nervous system was why he kept the
relatively dangerous creatures on board. "A productive evening," he told it.
"The captain doesn't need to know that I've had the report he'll receive
tomorrow ready for some months now, no he doesn't. And so long as the problems
are addressed he shouldn't ever need to, either." The soft buzz in his palm
intensified, and his smile softened. "Perhaps I'll bring you to the meeting
tomorrow as well; I believe you'd be very good for Sub-Commander T'Pol if I
could somehow convince her to hold you." He stood for a few minutes more,
petting the creature, and then replaced it in its tightly sealed glass home and
wandered off toward his own quarters, chuckling. He was going to enjoy
tomorrow's meeting immensely.
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