Spoilers: Precious Cargo
Truth is Hard to Swallow
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, only the storyline belongs to the
author and may not be archived anywhere else but here without the author's
A/N: The song is Silhouettes, written by Slay/Crewe
Trip wasn't sure how long he had been sitting there, hugging his knees,
collapsed on the floor in front of his lover's quarters, when he heard the
voices from within grow louder as they approached the door.
He jumped up, panicking, yet undecided whether he should run away or confront
the person that would walk out of Malcolm's quarters any second. Trip tensed his
muscles, ready to either run or fight, and waited.
When the door didn't slide open as expected, he managed to relax to some
degree. He swallowed hard and took a step closer to the door. The two men inside
had obviously stepped back further into the room again, because Trip couldn't
understand what they were saying. Realising he had stopped breathing for a few
seconds, he drew a sharp breath, leaned back against the wall next to the door
and closed his eyes. He felt tears gathering behind his lids. Tears of pain, of
desperation, and of anger.
He clenched his teeth, wondering which of the three was the most unbearable.
The pain of having lost Malcolm? The desperation about the fact that it was his
very own fault? Or the anger about having been so incredibly stupid to put
everything he had wanted for so long and had finally achieved at stake for a few
moments of pleasure?
And he was also angry that Malcolm was so quick to retaliate. He would have
never expected this of him. Malcolm hadn't even been ready to listen to him.
Alright, Trip could understand that, with the pain freshly burning in Malcolm's
heart. But that Malcolm would just turn around and throw himself into someone
else's arms - some other *guy's* arms? Especially after he was still kind of shy
in front of Trip when they were alone. Still insecure sometimes, as was Trip
himself. For both of them it was their first same-sex relationship. And so far
Trip had considered it unique and special. 'Yeah, right. That's why you jumped
at the first opportunity you got to have it off with a woman.' Anger rose again
within him, and he started pacing up and down the corridor.
Trip had come to talk things over with Malcolm, probably to apologise, if
Malcolm was ready to let him. And to tell him that he HAD thought about things,
about them, as Malcolm had told him to. And also to let him know that he loved
him. Truly, with all his heart, his soul, his whole being. Admit that he had
made the biggest mistake of his life on that swamp planet. That it had just been
physical with Kaitaama, and that he was disgusted by himself for what he had
done. He realised that this was horribly true, when a wave of nausea suddenly
washed over him.
He stopped his pacing, closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. In
through the nose – out through the mouth – until he felt better. Dizzy, but
still better. He opened his eyes again and stared into nowhere. 'Now what?' he
thought. 'Now – what?' His mind went blank for a moment.
Cheerful laughter emerging from within the room in front of which he was
lurking ripped him violently back into the present. Listening to the two men
behind the door giggling, Trip felt a cyclone of emotions forming and rising
from deep within himself. It was pain, denial, rage and fear altogether, and he
felt like bursting, or screaming, like hitting his head against the wall until
everything around him would go mercifully black and numb.
But at the same time he felt alive – he felt his heart pumping blood through
his veins, heating his body. He felt air filling his lungs, and his muscles
tensing and relaxing again. The feeling of being paralysed slowly slipped away,
making room for an incredible rush of energy. He turned towards Malcolm's door
and took one deep breath, whispering 'No matter what I've done to deserve this,
I'm not gonna let ya go without a fight.' He pressed his thumb on the buzzer and
waited, trying to keep his emotions under control.
The conversation behind the door ceased. When that remained the only
reaction, Trip felt anger rise in him again. He lifted his fist and started
banging on the door. "Open up! I gotta talk to ya!" He heard footsteps
approaching the door, and a voice asking, "Who is it?" Trip banged on the door
again as if to emphasize his words. "You know damn well who it is! Now open that
Desperation tried to win out once more. Trip closed his eyes and clenched his
teeth. He didn't immediately open his eyes when he heard the door in front of
him slide open. "Yes, Commander? Is there a problem?"
Trip had braced himself for the look in Malcolm's eyes. A mixture of
disappointment, scorn and contempt. But he wasn't ready for what he did see when
he finally looked up.
He wasn't looking into the eyes of the man he loved! He wasn't looking into
Malcolm's face! He stared at the crewman standing in front of him in his
leisures, with touseled hair and a slightly shocked look in his eyes. "Sir?" the
other man asked again.
"Um - " Trip had never felt this speechless before. He tilted his head to
look past Crewman Davis into the room, just to find another only remotely
familiar face staring back at him. "Ah, er, Crewman - Conrad?" Trip lifted a
hand to wave at the confused man on the other side of the room who shyly waved
"Are you alright, Sir? Is there anything I can do for you?" The tone in
Crewman Davis' voice had switched from confusion to concern.
Trip felt his face grow hot. 'Oh my God, this isn't Malcolm's quarters at
all! What the hell....?' He cleared his throat. "Oh, um, no, no thanks, I, er,"
he slowly started to retreat backwards from the door, "I jus' wen' by an' I
though' I heard, er, no, ah, it was nothin', jus' forget it, er, my mistake. See
ya!" With that he turned around and walked back in the direction of his own
quarters, fast, still feeling the looks of the two confused men following him.
After having walked around two corners, he stopped and slowly turned around.
He went back to the last junction he had passed and looked in every direction.
Then he started to giggle. At first silently, then louder, until he had to lean
against the nearest wall and hold his belly. After a few minutes, the hysterical
laughter slowly subsided, and Trip felt tears running down his cheeks. 'Oh God,
Malcolm. How could I have ever thought you would do this to me.'
Trip pushed himself off the wall and started running, taking care that he
didn't take a turn too early like he had done in his earlier fit of emotion.
Finally he stood before the right door. He was certain, this time it *was* the
right door. And this time he did not hestitate to press the button next to the
door. The reply came immediately. "Come in!" Trip took a deep breath, as if he
was about to jump into a lake of unknown depth, and let himself in.
Malcolm jumped up from the chair he had been sitting on, dropping a PADD from
his hand onto the table. "Commander?" There he was, the man Trip loved, totally
in control of his feelings, almost Vulcan-like. But not quite. Trip very well
noticed the little twitch in the corner of Malcolm's mouth. Trip couldn't help
but smile. 'I – love – you.' he thought.
"Now cut that Commander crap, Malcolm!" Trip finally managed to say. "You
know why I'm here."
Malcolm listened in silence to what his lover had to tell him. That he loved
him, that he had made a mistake, that he was sorry, that he hoped he hadn't
destroyed everything by his mindlessness, and again and again that he loved him.
He wasn't sure if the words had this effect on him, or the tears that kept
flowing out of those beautiful blue eyes, or the silent sobs that interrupted
his lover's words at irregular intervals. Or seeing that tall blond man who
usually was the one in control being reduced to such a miserable little boy.
But Malcolm was sure that he wouldn't be able to do what he had planned to
do, should this situation ever arise. He had wanted to remain ice cold, to let
Trip feel the pain he had felt, and to take his time to decide whether he wanted
him back or not. Although he had made that decision a long time ago. Of course
he wanted him. And as for the pain, looking at the other man, Malcolm was sure
that Trip had learned by now what it felt like.
When the torrent of words had dried up, Malcolm took a step towards the sad
man who still hadn't dared to move too far away from the door, probably
expecting to be kicked out again immediately. "You're an idiot," Malcolm said,
grinning, and reached out his arms to Trip, who didn't hestitate one second to
rush into them.
They stood like this for a while, Malcolm patting and stroking the taller
man's back, whispering soothing words into his ear, Trip digging his face into
Malcolm's shoulder and crying, crying, getting rid of the pain, the fear, and
the tension. When he finally had regained some control over his voice, he
whispered, "I love you, Malcolm. And you're absolutely right."
"Of course I'm right, love. You *are* an idiot." Malcolm gave Trip one of his
heart-warming smiles. And Trip couldn't help but to smile back.
"Yes, but, um, it's even worse than ya think."
Malcolm raised his brows. "Worse? What else have you done that could possibly
be worse than to ... "
"Naw, that's no' wha' I mean." And Trip told him about how he had spent the
past hour or two, lurking in front of some other man's quarters, ready to beat
up the guy that was with him, just because he had taken one wrong turn in the
corridor due to his inner turmoil.
When Trip had finished, Malcolm looked at him for what seemed like an
eternity. "What?" Trip finally asked nervously.
Malcolm folded his arms in front of his chest and replied, "I'm not sure if
I'm supposed to laugh or cry, Mister Tucker."
"Wha'd'ya mean?" Trip asked quietly, wondering what he had done now to chase
that beautiful smile away from his lover's face, and to make him call him
'Mister Tucker' again.
"Well, for one thing," Malcolm started, "this is just so typically you. To
confuse doors, even whole corridors. What are you going to do next? Walk onto
the bridge with only a towel around your hips because you mistook the turbolift
door with the one to your bathroom? Are you at all sure you're on the right
ship? But there's one thing that really – excuse me – pisses me off."
The grin that had started forming on Trip's face again froze. "And what's
that?" He asked carefully.
Malcolm sighed. "Did you really think that it was me behind that door? With
another man? Did you really have the impertinence to suspect me to pay you back
like that?" He was getting angrier by the second.
"Malcolm, love - " Trip started.
"Let me finish, please, will you?" Malcolm hissed. "This may be your style,
Mister Tucker, to jump at the first opportunity that presents itself to you, but
it certainly isn't mine. I thought you knew me better than that. Right now I'm
really not sure what's worse. What you've done to me or that you could possibly
think I was capable of doing the same to you."
He turned around, away from Trip who had gone pale, not knowing how to react,
and picked up the PADD from the table, just to slam it back down after a moment.
Trip felt the tears creeping back into his eyes, and a lump in his throat
threatening to choke him any second.
"That's jus' part of the same big mistake, Malcolm," Trip managed to whisper
hoarsely after a while, "both of i'. I had gone down into the gutter, and that's
where my min' still was at tha' time. I don't know – I didn't know wha' I was
suppose' ta think. I was blin', I was furious, I was – imaginin' things that
could never – will never happen."
Malcolm turned around slowly, without lifting his eyes to look at the man who
had turned into that sad little boy again. He just wanted him to know that he
was listening, even though he didn't know what to say yet.
"Malcolm," Trip went on, still whispering, "I love you. And standin' in fron'
of tha' door I realised jus' how much. I was ready to do anythin' to get you
back. And I still am. I apologise for lettin' myself down to thinkin' tha' you
could ever - " he broke off, swallowing hard. "I know you wouldn'." He went on,
shaking his head. "That's why I love you so much. You're no' like me."
When Trip saw the tiny smile that he loved so much return to Malcolm's mouth,
he added, "Will you jus' give this idiot one las' chance?"
Malcolm sighed, grinned, and slowly shook his head, making Trip's heart sink.
"Love," he said, "I'll probably always be a fool for this idiot. Just be a bit
more careful with what you do, say and think, alright? You hurt me, Trip. You
hurt me terribly, and I still feel the pain. I don't know when it is going to
subside, if ever."
"Oh I know, love, I know." Trip threw his arms around his friend and held him
close. "I'm so sorry, I cannot tell you how much. If there's anything I can do
"I'll think of something." Malcolm grinned. "Something horrible, something
disgusting, something that will make you whimper for mercy."
"Sounds interesting. Give me details?"
"Later, dear, later." Malcolm placed a soft kiss on Trip's mouth, then freed
himself from his lover's embrace and went over to his desk. "First of all, I
want you to listen to this."
"What is it?" Trip asked, following Malcolm who was typing something into his
"Oh, you know, this whole situation has reminded me of an old song," he
"How romantic." Trip had positioned himself behind Malcolm who was now
sitting at his desk, and started massaging his shoulders. "Who's singing?"
"Ever heard of Herman's Hermits? 1960s. English band. Some of their lyrics
were – pretty naughty. For their time, that is. You'll love them." Malcolm
"Let's hear it then."
"Alright. Care to make yourself comfortable? As far as I'm concerned you
don't have to leave tonight." Malcolm smiled, gesturing towards his bunk.
Trip smiled back at Malcolm, sat down and kicked off his shoes. "Thanks for
the invitation. I sure wouldn' wanna be alone right now."
"I know." Malcolm pushed the button to start the recording and went over to
his bunk to sit down next to Trip who had propped his back up against the wall.
Covering both him and Trip with a blanket, Malcolm leant back into his lover's
arms and closed his eyes.
Took a walk and passed your house late last night
All the shades were
pulled and drawn way down tight
From within, the dim light cast two
silhouettes on the shade
What a lovely couple they made
"Oh my," Trip whispered.
Put his arms around your waist, held you tight
Kisses I could almost
taste in the night
Wondered why I'm not the guy who's silhouette's on the
I couldn't hide the tears in my eyes
"Jeez, Malcolm, that's incredible. Were those guys time travellers? Or
clairvoyants or something?"
Malcolm smiled. "No, they just described things that can - and obviously do -
happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime."
Lost control and rang your bell, I was sore
Let me in or else I'll
beat down your door
When two strangers who have been two silhouettes on the
Said to my shock "you're on the wrong block"
Trip started laughing. "Oh God, Malcolm! I don't believe this!"
Rushed down to your house with wings on my feet
Loved you like I'd
never loved you my sweet
Vowed that you and I would be two silhouettes on
All of our days, two silhouettes on the shade
"Oh yes, Mal, that's exactly it!" Trip laughed, then continued more quietly,
"jus' you and I, all of our days. Sounds kinda nice, doesn' it?"
Malcolm nodded. "Would you like to hear the other songs as well?"
"Sure, why not. I think you got me hooked." Trip laughed.
"Thought so." Malcolm nestled into Trip's arms and slowly drifted off.
Trip kissed the top of his lover's head and listened to the words of the next
song. That one was about someone losing his love and the resulting pain. 'Lucky
guy I am.' Trip thought watching his lover sleep in his arms for a few more
moments before closing his own eyes.
'I was pretty close today to becoming the bloke in this song.'
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