"Human Touch - Part Two: Triad"
Pairing: Tucker/T’Pol, Tucker/Reed
Summary: Sequel to ‘Under My Skin’. Set during S4, beginning some time after
‘The Augments’ and ending immediately after ’Daedalus’. Told from multiple
points of view.
Disclaimer: Enterprise is not mine. No profit has been made from the writing and
publication of this story.
Betas: Thanks to SueC, Bianca and Shivvlan for their helpful comments. All
mistakes are mine.
19th June 2154
First Minister Enkar’s expression transformed itself from a jovial grin into a
frown of concentration as he stalked down the corridor from the banqueting hall
to the control room.
“Are the scans complete?” he barked as he entered.
“Yes, First Minister,” Sunjul, the Minister of Health, replied deferentially.
“The Humans appear to be compatible, but they will require significant
Enkar considered for a moment. Modification involved a considerable expenditure
of resources, and for only eighty specimens … yet the information they gained
from it might prove useful in the future.
“Take one for dissection and one for experimentation,” he said at last.
“Yes, First Minister,” Sunjul said as he turned back to his work.
Enkar’s face resumed its benign expression as he returned to his guests.
Marriage seemed like the logical solution. To do my duty as a daughter. To
follow the traditions of my people. To end my dangerous obsession with Human
emotions: with one particular Human’s emotions. Because as much as I … felt for
Trip, I would never be certain that our union was not predicated on a lie.
I had been about to take a different path: the one my older self had advocated.
I took him home with me to Vulcan, that he might come to know my planet and my
people. I introduced him to my mother, wondering if he would remember I had told
him long ago that on some planets such actions are regarded as a precursor to
marriage. I intended to pursue the emotions he had awakened in me to their
Yet the origin of those emotions must always remain my shameful secret: my abuse
of trellium-D. My supremely foolish actions during that time jeopardised the
mission and my crewmates, and compromised my ability to command. And I treated
Trip abominably. I abused our growing friendship and used him to satisfy my
curiosity and desire when he had turned to me for assistance in dealing with his
loss. I knew he was emotionally vulnerable. I baited and enticed him during our
neuro-pressure sessions, and then finally as I became intensely jealous of his
apparent attraction to another woman, I planned an open seduction, discarding my
customary pyjamas and then opening my robe to reveal my naked body, offering
myself in a way I knew he would be unable to resist.
Afterwards the intimacy we had shared frightened me and I pushed him away,
denying my own feelings even as I craved more, lashing out at him in my
confusion. Yet as I ceased my abuse of the substance I found I still wanted him,
even more so after I met my older self - and our son. There seemed to be only
one logical course of action, despite my doubts and the inevitable disapproval
of my family and my people. I was not blind to his regard for me. I made my
decision to attempt a relationship with Trip.
Until Koss contacted me. I had not considered him. Having ended our betrothal
two years ago, I had assumed he would have chosen another mate. Yet I discovered
he still wanted me, and was willing to assist my mother and overlook my
transgressions in order to become my husband. He was even prepared to tolerate
my connection with Starfleet and my close association with Humans in order to
ensure my … happiness. A most unusual reaction from one of my kind. It struck me
as … noble.
My dream of bonding with Trip suddenly seemed like a foolish, emotional notion.
This marriage is my destiny and my atonement, to myself, to my people and most
of all to Trip. As a Human he deserves a mate who can return his passion without
restraint: something I would never allow myself to do. And I require the
stability and logic of a Vulcan husband, even one who is not physically present
in my life, in order to be truly Vulcan again.
We should have listened. Standing on the gantry in the armoury looking down at
the modified torpedo we’ve pressed into service as a coffin and listening to the
Captain deliver the eulogy I can’t help but feel this is my fault. Malcolm
smelled a rat from the beginning with that uncanny sixth sense of his, but we -
the Captain and I - laughed at him and called him paranoid. The Solorians seemed
so open and friendly - too friendly, according to Malcolm. I was just enjoying
meeting aliens who weren’t suspicious or hostile or downright sneaky. At least
they didn’t seem that way. Not in the beginning. It wasn’t until Malcolm and
Ensign Okuda disappeared down on the planet that we realised he’d been right.
They paid the price for our complacency. Maybe if we’d listened we wouldn’t be
burying our dead today.
My shift ends right after the funeral. I suppose it’s dinnertime but I’m not
hungry and I wander aimlessly through the corridors until I find myself outside
Malcolm’s quarters. Funny that my wandering feet brought me here. The route’s
almost as familiar to me as the one to my own cabin. I smile to myself as I
think about how much time I’ve spent here over the years: talking, drinking,
laughing, crying sometimes. But still I hesitate before I key the door code and
step inside. Malcolm’s real protective of his personal space, but I figure under
the circumstances he wouldn’t mind.
Malcolm keeps his room really tidy. A place for everything and everything in its
place - except today there’s one small item, an old leather-bound book, lying on
his desk. Dickens. David Copperfield. It’s one of his favourites and I remember
he was going to lend it to me after we spent an evening arguing about the
relative merits of Dickens and Twain. I realise he must have left it out before
we went to the surface, ready to give to me when we got back.
I pick it up and run my fingers over the cracked leather binding. He loves these
old books and I’m flattered he was willing to trust me with something so
precious to him. He has so few personal possessions, yet everything in this room
reminds me of him: the neat row of books on the shelf above his desk; the
photograph I took of him and Maddy on our furlough on Earth; his boxing gloves
and martial arts weapons.
I sit down hard on his bunk as it hits me just how much I miss him, and on an
impulse I pick up his pillow and bury my face in it as I hug it to me. It
carries his scent, and somehow I find that sorta comforting. I’ve never cuddled
Malcolm himself, of course. Well, except that one time at his sister’s place
when I guess I must’ve been dreamin’ about T’Pol and I woke up with my arms
‘round him. I thought he was gonna deck me, but we ended up laughing about it. I
remember he smelled kinda nice.
I wish I could tell him how much richer he’s made my life, and how much he
helped me when I needed to get over T‘Pol. He made me face up to a few things,
like seeing my folks. I don't think I would’ve gone if it hadn't been for him,
and then I wouldn't have seen my Mom smile or heard my Dad laugh again for I
don't know how long. I'd still be carrying around an image in my head of the way
they were when we left for the mission to the Expanse - two broken people who'd
lost a child. It’s thanks to Malcolm I brought happier memories with me on this
voyage. And all this from an uptight, spit and polish Brit who irritated the
hell outa me for the first few months we served together. I guess he kinda grew
on me. I told T’Les that T’Pol was the first person I’d ever enjoyed arguing
with, but I was wrong. That honour belongs to Malcolm.
I guess I feel as much for him as I ever did for her, but in a different way of
course. I’m not … never have been, never could be … interested in guys that way.
I love him as a friend, like the Cap’n, except Jon and I are the same; buddies
who drink beer and watch sports together. It’s deeper than that with Malcolm,
even though we‘re completely different. Yin and yang. Funny, I’ve always thought
of Jon as my closest friend aboard Enterprise, but I guess that isn’t so true
any more. I’d say I love Malcolm more like a brother, except I was never
particularly close to my brother Dan. He was always a sneaky little tattletale
when we were kids, and I was never really confident he grew out of it. I was
always much closer to Lizzie. So I guess the way I feel about Malcolm is unique:
a once in a lifetime thing.
My eyes are drawn to the book I still hold in my hand and suddenly I feel the
need to have something of his close to me. Would he object? I don’t think so. I
tuck it into my pocket as I leave the room and head for sickbay.
“Hey, Doc,” I greet Phlox quietly. “How’s the patient?”
“Much the same as he was yesterday, Commander.” He looks uncharacteristically
grim. “I’m doing everything I can.”
“I know y’are, Doc,” I assure him. “Can I sit with him a while?”
“It’s unlikely he’ll be aware of your presence,” he says gently.
He nods, seeming to understand that I need to do this.
Malcolm still looks a lot like he did when we found him in that foetid dungeon
two days ago: pale and still and with a dozen different tubes and wires
penetrating his body. It took Phlox and me over an hour to free him. Phlox
reckons their medical procedures were based almost entirely on organ
transplantation, and they were trying to make Human tissue compatible with their
own. Looks like they had long-term plans for all of us.
And he was conscious and in terrible pain that whole time. I only realised it
when he croaked my name and grabbed my hand in a vice-like grip as he turned
sightless silver eyes on me. I comforted him as best I could and begged Phlox to
at least give him something for the pain, but he couldn’t even do that until
he’d identified what drugs the Solorians had pumped into him. We worked twice as
fast after that.
He looks deceptively peaceful now, but there’s a slight scaliness to his skin
and his breathing’s shallow and rapid even with the oxygen mask. I know he has
serious internal injuries, and the Solorians seem to have broken his bones just
for fun. He’s wheezing a little and I can see his eyelids fluttering. I hope his
dreams are pleasant.
I wish I could do something to help him, just to let him know he’s back with us
and we’re doing everything we can for him. I remember reading someplace that
when someone’s unconscious, hearing is the last sense to disappear and the first
to return, so I sit down and start talking, figuring at the very least it won’t
do any harm. I tell him about Okuda’s funeral, ‘cause I know he’d have wanted to
be there if he could. Okuda was one of his. Then I try to think of some good
gossip to tell him, but everyone’s been pretty subdued for the last couple of
days, for obvious reasons. Then I remember how, when I was a kid, my Mom used to
read to me when I was sick. I’d lie back and close my eyes and just listen to
the comforting sound of her voice, and it always made me feel better. My hand
automatically strays to my pocket and takes out the slim volume. It seems like
the right thing to do. I start to read.
I’m drowning. They’ve injected me with something and now my lungs are filling
with fluid so that each breath is shallower than the last. The sensation is
horrible, terrifying, and an old panic overtakes me. I struggle against the
bonds that bite into my wrists and ankles, heedless of the excruciating pain
from my broken legs and dislocated shoulder. I try to suck in air but my own
body betrays me. They hold me down as my panic rises higher and I flick my head
from side to side as they try to inject something into my neck, trying to get
away from the needle I know will take me to oblivion again, and all the while
I’m shouting, screaming, yelling for someone, anyone who might hear me and
gasping for air …
I wake screaming, pulling, clawing at the bedclothes, and my hand darts out to
snap on my reading light. My terror begins to subside as it reveals the familiar,
mundane surroundings of my quarters.
“Oh god!” I moan quietly to myself as I slump back on my pillows, feeling
utterly drained. The nightmares began nearly two weeks ago, as soon as Doctor
Phlox began to step down my sedatives. They’re always the same: I’m trapped in
the Solorian medical facility, strapped to a bench, drowning in my own bodily
fluids. I feel that somehow I should be able to get this under control. My
conscious mind knows my ordeal is over, and I will eventually recover from my
injuries. Why does my subconscious insist on reliving it? It’s getting to the
point where I’m almost afraid to go to sleep.
I leave the light on to chase away the demons and sleep fitfully for the rest of
the night, and when Trip arrives early the next morning with his mug of coffee
and my first dose of protein concentrate of the day, he takes one look at me and
frowns in concern at my haggard appearance.
“You still havin’ nightmares?”
I nod as he steps into the room. I’m surprised he didn’t hear me; his cabin’s
less than twenty metres away. I’m surprised half the deck didn’t hear my
blood-curdling screams. “I thought I’d be over it by now,” I say glumly.
He puts the drinks down on my desk and comes to sit beside me on the bed, close
enough to touch if I want to, but I resist the temptation to grasp his hand. I
hate to be so needy and dependent, but for the first time since waking I feel
calm and safe.
“It could take a while, Mal,” he says softly, gentle and reassuring. “I was
there, remember? I saw what they were doin’ to you.”
Yes, he was there. Through the haze of pain and drugs I was dimly aware of the
security team, led by T’Pol, storming my torture chamber, and then Phlox and
Trip painstakingly disconnecting me from each of the Solorian devices in turn,
Trip’s soothing voice reassuring me as Phlox did his best to stabilize my
condition after each step. I remember relief flooding through me as I realised
that he and the rest of the crew were safe. When the Solorians had dragged me
from my room in the middle of the night I assumed they had taken everyone in the
landing party, and perhaps everyone on the ship as well. And it was my fault.
After a double dose of teasing about my paranoia from Trip and the Captain, I
reluctantly let my guard down, and this was the result. I couldn’t bear the
thought of what they might be doing to Trip’s beautiful body.
He was there in sickbay too. As I floated on the edge of consciousness I could
hear a familiar voice speaking familiar words, but I couldn‘t quite grasp their
meaning. It wasn’t until I awoke fully, days later, that I realised Trip had
been spending his off-duty hours sitting by my bedside reading aloud to me. I
found it immensely comforting and I was touched and amazed that he would do such
a thing for me, yet I couldn’t help but smile inwardly at the incongruity of his
distinctive American accent reading Dickens’ quintessentially English prose.
There were other voices of course. Just the Captain and Doctor Phlox at first,
and then as I slowly began to recover, Travis, Hoshi, most of my armoury team
and even T’Pol came down to talk or to assist me with my physical therapy. But
Trip was my most consistent and most welcome visitor. The Solorian
transformation had compromised almost every organ in my body, and Phlox only
dared to apply his gene therapy to a few at a time. In the beginning he rightly
concentrated on restoring my cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, but I missed
my sight the most and without Trip turning up each evening to read to me I think
I might have found my blindness unbearable.
My recovery was slow, but by degrees my broken bones healed and I was able to
breathe on my own again. Nearly a month after the Solorian incident I was able
to walk with the aid of crutches and my sight was all but restored. Even my skin
was returning to normal, and I was restless and anxious to return to my own
quarters. I’m sure Phlox was happy to see the back of me, and as soon as Trip
had volunteered to help me get my meals and escort me to my daily therapy
sessions, he released me from sickbay.
“I just wish I could do more to help,” Trip says suddenly, breaking into my
“You’re doing more than enough already.” I make a face as I choke down the
protein concentrate. “Come on. Let’s go and see if the good doctor has found a
way to turn my digestive system back into something vaguely Human. I’m looking
forward to eating real food again.”
I’ll never forget the moment when Phlox told me Malcolm was gonna be okay. I
don’t think I’ve ever felt such overwhelming joy and relief. And I was real glad
when he finally woke up and was able to talk with me, even if it was only for a
few minutes at a time at first. Since he couldn’t see me, it seemed like the
most natural thing in the world to reach out and hold his hand, just to let him
have some kind of Human contact. I didn’t let go for a long time.
This morning he looks like he’s in pretty bad shape, and I wonder if he’s slept
at all. I know exactly what that feels like. The nightmares I used to get after
Lizzie died left me exhausted. It must be twice as bad for Malcolm since he’s
recovering from physical injuries too. The kernel of an idea begins to form in
my mind, and I chew on it as we wander down to sickbay.
Phlox beams at his favourite patient as we enter, and as Malcolm heads off to
get ready for his therapy - or ‘more torture’, as he calls it - I take the
opportunity to pull him aside.
“Doc, can I talk to you for a minute? About Malcolm’s nightmares?”
“By all means, Commander.” He looks at me expectantly.
“I was thinkin’ about the nightmares I used to get after Lizzie died, and how
T’Pol helped me, and I was wonderin’ if you thought neuro-pressure might help
He shrugs, as if the answer’s obvious. “I’m sure it would help with the sleep
disturbances if not the underlying trauma. Unfortunately I doubt I could
persuade Commander T’Pol to engage in such an intimate activity with another
member of the crew after her experience with you …”
“I wasn’t talkin’ about T’Pol,” I interrupt him. “I was talkin’ about me. I
could do it, and I’m pretty sure I could get Malcolm to agree.”
Phlox looks dubious. “Have you spoken with Lieutenant Reed about this?”
“Nope. I wanted to run it by you first.”
“How long has it been since you last practised neuro-pressure with Commander
I sigh. I knew this would be a stumbling block. “About six months,” I admit.
“But I know T’Pol felt I was gettin’ pretty good at it.”
“I’m sorry, Commander, I know you want to help, but neuro-pressure can cause
nerve damage if misapplied, and Lieutenant Reed’s physical health is still
fragile. If you haven’t practised for six months your skills are bound to be
somewhat rusty. I daren’t risk you doing any further damage.”
“Doc, I’d never do anything to hurt him.” I find myself pleading.
“I know, Commander.” His expression softens. “But if you want to do this I
insist you talk with Commander T’Pol first and have her refresh your memory.
After that, if she believes you are competent, I would consider allowing you to
treat Lieutenant Reed.”
I roll my eyes. I can understand his caution, but I really didn’t want to bring
T’Pol into this. We’ve barely spoken outside of our respective duties since she
came back from Vulcan and I’ve worked hard on getting over her. Now I have to
talk to her about neuro-pressure, the very thing that started our whole …
whatever it was … in the first place. The thought awakens some uncomfortable
feelings I’d rather not have to deal with right now.
“For Malcolm,” I remind myself as I head off to begin my shift in engineering.
As my shift on the bridge draws to a close I find myself preoccupied with
thoughts of Trip. I cannot seem to break away from them no matter how hard I try
to concentrate on my duties. It’s almost as if I can feel him in my mind and it
disturbs me that I should think of him in this way now. I have not done so since
I married Koss, and I had hoped that my feelings for him would subside as I
bonded with my husband. It seems they are not so easy to expunge.
When Lieutenant MacNeill, the beta-shift science officer, relieves me I forego
my customary meeting with the Captain and hurry off the bridge, intending to go
directly to my quarters to meditate, but as I exit the lift I find Trip awaiting
me in the corridor, as if he had known exactly where I would be.
“T’Pol,” he says, catching up with me as I walk past him.
“Yes, Commander?” I compose myself as I turn to face him. I notice he looks
tired, but there is no hostility in his expression, only deep concern and
“I - ah- I wanted to talk to ya about somethin’. It’s important. If you haven’t
eaten, I wondered if maybe we could have dinner? In the mess hall?”
An overture of friendship, but I cannot welcome it. I want him to maintain the
respectful distance he has been keeping until now. I am able to maintain my
composure if he is simply a colleague, but I cannot offer him friendship. Not
“If it’s so important perhaps you should tell me now.”
He rolls his eyes in a familiar gesture of frustration, and it stirs my memories
of many of our previous interactions. If I weren’t Vulcan I might find it
“It’s about Malcolm. He’s been having nightmares ever since we got him back from
“I wasn’t aware of that.” Perhaps I should have been. As first officer the
welfare of the crew is my responsibility, but in the past I relied on Trip to
keep me informed about their morale and personal interactions. It seems that
without his help I have allowed myself to become somewhat isolated.
A brief flash of anger crosses his face, but he composes himself before replying.
“Phlox thinks neuro-pressure might help him get some undisturbed sleep.”
I realise now why he did not want to have this conversation standing in a
corridor, and I belatedly wish I had followed his lead. “He hasn’t approached me
“No, it was my idea, but he said I had to clear it with you before he’d let me
This surprises me, and I recognise a brief pang of another emotion. One that is
familiar to me. Jealousy. “You would be performing neuro-pressure on Lieutenant
His stance hardens as he grows truculent. “Yeah. Malcolm trusts me. I think he’d
let me do it. I just need you to go over the postures again with me to make sure
I don’t do any damage.”
I am in turmoil. I doubt Trip understands the enormity of what he is asking. For
Vulcans the instruction of neuro-pressure is an intimate act, and the thought of
doing so with Trip again awakens feelings of both fear and longing.
I quickly calm myself. “I don’t believe it would be appropriate for us to engage
in such an intimate activity in the current circumstances.”
His eyes flash with undisguised anger at my words and his voice is tight as he
replies. “This has nothing to do with us. In fact, for the record, as far as I’m
concerned there is no ‘us’ any more.” He pauses, leaning forward, his arms
folded across his chest. “Look, I’m just tryin’ to help a friend. If you decide
you wanna help me do that, you know where to find me.”
And with that he turns and walks away. His rebuke stings and I return quickly to
my quarters and attempt to meditate.
‘I’m just tryin’ to help a friend’: his words echo in my mind. He was motivated
by friendship and compassion, and had no doubt overcome his own discomfort in
order to approach me. He is obviously deeply concerned about Lieutenant Reed.
Have I really become so self-centred that I will refuse to render this small
assistance to a colleague?
I have great respect for Lieutenant Reed. He is generally quiet and reserved,
and is perhaps the most Vulcan-like member of this Human crew, yet he and Trip
maintain a close friendship. For a moment I consider whether it might be
possible for me to treat him directly, but I doubt he would be willing to accept
that. No, it seems Trip’s solution is the most logical one after all.
“Yeah?“ I barely glance up from the power conduit I’m working on. It’s a tricky
job and I don’t want to be late for lunch with Malcolm, and after she turned me
down last night I’m not inclined to give T’Pol my full attention. One session:
that’s all I was askin’ for. Malcolm looked worse than ever this morning. He had
big dark shadows under his eyes and a kinda hunted look about him. I’m sure he’d
recover a lot faster if only he could sleep properly.
“About the matter we discussed yesterday. If you come to my quarters when your
shift is over, I would be willing to assist you.”
She walks away without waiting for my reply, and all I can do is stare after
her. Half of me is grateful for her sudden change of mind, but the other half is
frustrated by the indirect way she addresses things. Vulcans might be the most
logical species in the universe, but they sure are lousy at communication.
I leave the bridge early and attempt to meditate in my quarters as I wait for
Trip to finish his shift. I will need to be calm and focused in order to
instruct him in neuro-pressure, but the thought of having him touch me again is
interfering with my composure. The emotions I thought I had repressed so
thoroughly are beginning to resurface. He is, after all, the man with whom I
once hoped to spend my life, and he can still ignite passion and desire in me if
I allow it to happen.
The door chime sounds.
“Enter,” I call, and Trip steps inside but then stops at the door, fidgeting
nervously. He has not been inside my quarters since the day we left for Vulcan,
and having him here is disconcerting for both of us.
“I believe we should begin by reviewing the breathing techniques.” I keep my
voice under tight control. “I have identified five postures which should be
particularly useful in aiding Lieutenant Reed. If they prove effective we can
consider using others at a later time.”
As I mention the Lieutenant he becomes more focused. “Sure, my thoughts
“Then let’s begin.”
He kneels down in front of me and we begin our evening’s work. I allow Trip to
take the lead and I am forced to acknowledge that his memory of the techniques I
taught him is better than I expected.
“I understand from the doctor that you have been caring for Lieutenant Reed
during his recovery,” I observe as we move to our second posture. We have always
conversed during our neuro-pressure sessions, even though it is customary to
maintain silence, and tonight I find it helps to distract me from the way his
hands feel on my body.
“Yeah, well, we‘re friends. I don’t mind helping him. Fifth vertebra?”
I nod, confirming he is correct. “He described your relationship as intimate.”
Even with my back towards him I know his eyebrows are raised as he replies.
“Intimate? Well, I guess you could say that.”
I approach the question that has been burning in my mind ever since my
conversation with Doctor Phlox a few hours ago. “I understand that same-sex
relationships are relatively common among Humans.”
He bursts out laughing as we finish the posture. “Is that what Phlox thinks?
That Malcolm’s my boyfriend?”
I turn to face him. “I apologise if the assumption was incorrect.” I don’t add
that it was my own rather than the doctor’s.
We move on to the next posture, and I am forced to admit that Trip has lost very
little of his skill in this discipline. There is just the right combination of
strength and gentleness in his touch, his breathing is slow and steady and his
memory of the postures is flawless. As we finish the final posture Trip drops
his hands away from me and waits expectantly.
“I believe you have retained enough skill to treat Lieutenant Reed,” I tell him.
“Thank you,” he says softly. “I know this must have been difficult for you.”
I bow my head slightly in acknowledgement of his unexpected empathy. “Please
return if you wish to use any other postures.”
He gets up, intending to leave. “Commander?” He stops, waiting for me to
continue. “If Lieutenant Reed were your partner, he would be very fortunate.”
His expression is unreadable as he nods slightly, and turns to leave.
“Do you really think it’ll help?” I’m dubious.
We ate dinner together in the mess hall, me sipping another mugful of the
doctor’s delightful concoction while Trip worked his way through a plate of
pasta, and as he walked me back to my quarters he broached the subject of my
nightmares and suggested, ever so subtly, that he might be able to use Vulcan
neuro-pressure to help me sleep. Now I’m lying on my bunk, tired after a day of
physical therapy, but deep down I know my fatigue won’t prevent me having the
nightmare again. In fact it’s often more intense when I’ve pushed my body to its
“All I know is, it helped me. A lot.” He slides off his chair and kneels down
beside my bed, anguish in his eyes. “Please, Mal, I know what you’re going
through. Let me help.”
“You’ve done so much already,” I mumble, looking away and biting my lip as I
battle with my conflicting desires. I loathe the fact that I’m so dependent on
others, especially Trip, yet the thought of a night without nightmares is
enticing, as is the thought of Trip’s hands touching me. I’ve tried to resist my
desire for him over the last few months, but now that I’m faced with the
prospect of prolonged physical contact, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my
feelings in check. But I know he’s gone to a lot of trouble to clear this with
Doctor Phlox and T’Pol, and it seems churlish to reject his genuine offer of
help. “What do I have to do?”
His face lights up as he smiles and shifts to sit on the edge of my bed, gazing
down at me. His expression is almost tender. “Well, first I’ll show you how to
He leaves me lying down and lays a hand on my chest as he shows me the deep,
slow breathing technique he tells me is integral to the practice of
neuro-pressure. As I’ve long suspected it’s almost identical to that used in
several martial arts, and he smiles and nods his approval as he realises I’m
already familiar with it.
“I need you to take your shirt off,” he says as he helps me sit up.
“Really?” I laugh, glancing nervously at him.
“It’s more effective with skin-to-skin contact.”
I slip off my t-shirt and Trip warms his hands before we begin on the first
posture. He places his hands carefully on my back and it’s all I can do not to
lean into his touch as he exerts increasing pressure. His hands feel wonderful
on my bare skin, but I concentrate on maintaining my posture and breathing. I
want Trip to know I appreciate his efforts, not use this as an excuse to revel
in erotic fantasies. It does feel good, though, in spite of my wandering
thoughts. Very relaxing.
We change positions, Trip kneeling in front of me as he presses his fingers into
specific points on my neck and shoulders. I can’t decide whether to close my
eyes or gaze into Trip’s, but his ice-blue gaze is magnetic and I keep them
open, watching him concentrate. I feast my eyes on him, capturing every detail
of his face and committing the way he looks at this moment to memory: his bright
golden hair; his expressive, mobile brows; his funny, slightly upturned nose;
his strong chin and delicate pink lips that beg to be kissed.
With a final deep breath he lays his hands gently on my upper arms and closes
the session. I feel relaxed and peaceful: it’s the best feeling I’ve had since
we met the Solorians.
“Thank you,” I say softly. I know it’s inadequate, but I can’t think of anything
else to say.
He glances up and his eyes lock with mine. I’m mesmerised as a spark seems to
crackle in the air between us, something new and intangible, and my heart starts
to pound in my chest. He moistens his lips and for one heart-stopping moment I
think he’s going to kiss me, but finally he tears his eyes away from mine and
removes his hands from my arms. I realise it was probably only my overactive
imagination, fed by the way he’s cared for me these last few weeks and the
intimacy we‘ve shared during the last hour, and I try to hide my disappointment.
“Time for bed, I think.” I can feel my eyelids drooping as I roll back into my
“Sweet dreams, Malcolm.”
I’m asleep even before he leaves the room.
I should have left hours ago - gone back to my own quarters and my own bed - but
for some reason I find my self sitting in a corner of Malcolm’s room, watching
over him as he sleeps.
Intimate. T’Pol’s word resurfaces my mind and I acknowledge that we do have an
intimate relationship, more so than any friendship I’ve ever had with another
man, the Captain included. The word has a lot of different connotations of
course. You can be intimate with a friend, a family member, a lover. It’s all
about love and trust, and maybe that’s what Malcolm and I have above all else:
complete trust in one another.
He stirs and shifts a little in his sleep, but he doesn’t wake. At least the
neuro-pressure seems to have helped him.
The session with T’Pol was difficult for both of us. I’m sure she was just as
painfully aware as I was of what happened the last time we’d had a session in
her quarters, but I just kept reminding myself that I was doing this for
Malcolm, that he needed my help. But it was disturbing all the same. As I ran my
hands over her smooth, coppery skin I found out she can still get a reaction
from my body even if my mind doesn‘t want it to happen. And I can’t help
wondering what she meant by that final remark before I left. Did it mean she
thinks Malcolm and I would make a good couple, or that she still feels something
for me? I sigh quietly. Vulcan communication at its best.
But I guess the feelings I associate with T’Pol and neuro-pressure must have
surfaced a little with Malcolm tonight, because there was a moment right at the
end when I looked up into his eyes and there was something … I push that thought
quickly away. Malcolm and I are friends: close, intimate friends. Nothing else.
It felt strange to be back on duty after being away for so long, but eight long
weeks after the Solorian incident, I was finally fit and healthy. I’ll never
take such simple pleasures as being able to walk and see and eat and sleep for
granted again. Even the nightmares have subsided, thanks largely to Trip and his
neuro-pressure. That first night I slept like the proverbial baby and woke up
rested for the first time since Phlox took me off the sedatives. So we kept it
up, and as a result I had far more energy to put into my physical therapy, and
Phlox was able to step up his treatment regimen too.
I didn’t even find it too difficult to hide the fact that I adored having Trip
touch me, and if I took the memory of the way his magic fingers felt on my skin
into my dreams … well, they are my own private fantasies, and he will never
I returned in the nick of time. In the middle of a celebratory game of
basketball with Trip and the rest of the senior staff, we heard that Earth’s
embassy on Vulcan had been bombed, and as the resident ordnance expert, I was in
high demand during the subsequent investigation. Admiral Forrest is dead, along
with more than forty other Humans and Vulcans. It was hard to believe there were
terrorists on Vulcan, let alone any with a complaint against Earth, and as our
investigation threw up one anomaly after another it became clear that the
corruption in the High Command went all the way to the top.
With both T’Pol and Captain Archer incommunicado on the planet, Trip was in
command. I know it’s not something he enjoys, but he is good at handling rapidly
changing situations. I suppose that’s a useful skill for and engineer. I was
acting as his first officer and I’ll admit we make a good team, even if it did
feel a little strange to be so formal with him when he had been acting as my
masseur just a few days before. He’s an intuitive commander, but he has good
instincts and I respect his decisions even if I don’t always agree with them. At
least he listens to my advice. I doubt I would have revealed the Vulcans’
intentions to the Andorians, at least not without sanction from Starfleet
Command, but it was a brave decision that ultimately prevented a war, and I
admired him for it.
The Kir’Shara. The true record of the teachings of Surak. My mother and father
entertained me with stories of it when I was a small child, but as I matured I
came to believe it was only a myth, a symbol of something precious that was
I grieve for my mother. It is futile to wish that things had been different
between us, but I regret that we did not have time to heal the rift. She and the
other Syrrannites have been proved correct in their beliefs. I regret that she
did not live long enough to see it.
Katras; mind melding; the Kir’Shara: all had been shrouded in mystery and
mysticism until a few days ago. Yet Captain Archer carried the living spirit of
Surak; T’Pau was able to correct my pa’nar syndrome and allow me to touch my
mother’s mind; and the Kir’Shara has revealed Surak’s true philosophy and his
intentions for my people.
And Koss intends to release me from our marriage. I confided in Trip because I
felt he deserved to know. I know my decision to marry hurt him, that he felt I
was coerced, but I did not intend my revelation to be an invitation to resume
our previous intimacy.
I intend to honour my mother’s memory and her beliefs by studying the
translations of the Kir’Shara T’Pau has agreed to send to me. I intend to
discover, in common with the rest of my people, the true nature and abilities of
the Vulcan mind. I intend to embrace reason and logic. I will not have room in
my life for a Human lover.
Well, this is a first - dumped for a book. I guess I thought, when she told me
Koss was going to release her from their marriage, that maybe she wanted to try
again. I tried to be a friend; give her a shoulder to cry on, metaphorically, if
she wanted it. She’s been through a helluva lot: divorce from Koss, the death of
her mother, and on top of that, the way I understand it, that artefact they
found’s changin’ the whole of Vulcan society. All that must be hard to deal
with, even for a Vulcan.
I told her I understood, and I do. I even managed a little joke as she walked
away. And I think that conversation’s the first time in this whole mixed up
non-relationship we’ve ever been completely honest with each other. Pity it had
to happen at the end.
So I asked Malcolm to help me pick this week’s movie and he’s come up with
somethin’ suitably explosive. It’ll be good. I’m glad he’s made a full recovery,
but I’ve missed spendin’ time with him since he went back on duty, and frankly
he’s much better company than T’Pol. He’s clever and funny, in a dry sort of
way. In fact, if he was a woman, I’d probably find it real easy to fall for him.
Now there’s a scary thought.
End of Part 2
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