"Too Sexy For His Shirt" (Part Two)

Author - Pennyforum | Category - Humour/Angst | Main Story | Rating - PG
Trip * Malcolm Fanfic Home

Author: Pennyforum

Pairing: Reed/Tucker

Category: A bit of angst.

Pairing: Slash Reed/Tucker

Summary: Guess what hair-brained scheme the Admiral has come up with now.
“Somebody - I can't imagine who, but he's probably got four pips on his uniform - told Forrest all about that little competition we had a few weeks ago.”

Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything, I own nothing, and I'm not getting paid for this.

Comment: Malcolm's my very favourite character and I've loved putting him through all this. I hope he'll forgive me.
I understand that the name ‘Starfleet Academy’ didn’t exist as such during the exploits of NX01. In the mid 22nd century it was known as Starfleet’s Training Centre. I may be wrong about this, but that’s the name I’m using.
Please send me feedback. I really want to know what you think of this.

* * *

I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt. Sung by Right Said Fred.

I'm too sexy for my shirt, Too sexy for my shirt,
So sexy it hurts.
And I'm too sexy for Milan, New York or Japan.
And I'm too sexy for your party, too sexy for your party,
No way I'm disco dancing.
I'm a model. You know what I mean,
And I do my little turn on the catwalk. Yeah!
On the catwalk. Yeah! On the catwalk. Yeah!
I do my little turn on the catwalk.
I'm too sexy for my... Too sexy for my... Too sexy for my...
'Cos I'm a model. You know what I mean.
And I do my little turn on the catwalk. Yeah!
On the catwalk. Yeah! On the catwalk. Yeah!
I shake my little touche on the catwalk.
I'm too sexy for my cat, too sexy for my cat.
Poor pussy, poor pussy cat.
I'm too sexy for my love.
Love's going to leave me.

And I'm too sexy for this song . . .

* * *

"You know, Trip," Lieutenant Malcolm Reed held his thumb and index finger a mere millimetre apart, "I'm just a teensy-weensy bit miffed."

"Oh, right."  Commander Charles Tucker III looked across the dinner table which they were sharing with Ensigns Hoshi Sato and Travis Mayweather, "and with the British propensity for understatement, I guess what that really means is you're madder'n a wet hen."

"Yes, I am madder'n a wet hen."  Malcolm mimicked Trip's Southern drawl perfectly, which as usual amused the other three, so making Malcolm even madder.

He glared at them in such a way that they all endeavoured to put on serious expressions.

"So what's eatin' you, then Mal?"  Trip asked his fiancé.

Malcolm picked up his mug of tea, wrapped his hands around it, and inhaled the aroma deeply before speaking; "The Captain called me into his ready room just as I came off shift.  He'd had a message from Admiral Forrest.  You'd never believe what hair-brained scheme the admiral has come up with now."

"We're obviously not going to be able to guess,” observed Travis, "so why don't you just tell us?"

"I will if you'd stop interrupting.  Where was I?  Oh, yes.  It seems that somebody - I can't imagine who, but he's probably got four pips on his uniform - told Forrest all about that little competition we had a few weeks ago."

"Oh," squealed Hoshi, "so he knows about you being the sexiest man on board?  Is he going to give you a medal or something?"

"Hoshi, really!" The interruptions were frustrating Malcolm and he spoke rather sternly to her. 

"Sorry," she sighed, looking anything but.

"Just tell us, Mal."  Trip put his arm around Malcolm's shoulders encouraging him to continue.

"Forrest liked the idea so much he wants to make it a Starfleet-wide thing."

The others looked at him in amazement.

"You mean...?" Hoshi for once seemed lost for words.

"I mean, that he is instigating a competition to find the sexiest person in Starfleet.  All other ships and the land based institutions, like the Training and Medical Centres, are to choose their own representatives to compete in a Grand Final."

"And you are mad because...?"  Travis had to ask, although he was sure they all knew the answer.

"I will have to go to this 'Grand Final' to represent Enterprise."

"Oh, Malcolm,” Hoshi gushed, "We're so proud of you.  You're bound to be the overall winner.  I think it's a wonderful idea."

Malcolm put his head in his hands and groaned.  "I thought all this nonsense was over and done with."

"Hey, don't worry, darlin'."  Trip rubbed his hand over Malcolm's back.  "It might be a bit of fuss for a couple of weeks, but then we'll all be able to get back to normal."

"I hope you're right.  Perhaps I could persuade the Captain to send Keely instead.  After all she was the runner-up, and therefore could be a stand-in for me."

"Now the cap'n won't go along with that, Mal."  Trip countered.  "You'd have to have some seriously good reason for being unable to go."

"Are you thinking about alien bugs again?  Because I bet you still don't have any."  Malcolm was referring to an earlier time when he was trying to get out of the first competition.

"No, sorry."  Trip replied. "Of course, if you were no longer in Starfleet, you would not be eligible."

"You're suggesting that I resign from Starfleet?"

"No, just going through the options."

"Some option that is."  Malcolm finished his tea, put his mug down in a very deliberate fashion, looked at Trip and said,  "I could think of one way they'd have no choice but to send Keely."

"And what would that be, Malcolm?"  Travis was puzzled.

"If I were dead!"

"MALCOLM!"  Trip shouted so loud that other diners turned to look.  Trip lowered his voice but still spoke forcefully.  "Don't you dare even think about it!"

"Oh, come on, Trip.  I'm not that stupid.  It's just another option."

"Thank goodness for that."  Trip breathed a sigh of relief.  "I know you'll find it embarrassing, but it really won't be that bad,"

The two ensigns looked relieved, too.

Travis stood up.  "Well, Hoshi and I - er - have things to do.  We'll see you in the morning."

"Yes, goodnight," Hoshi smiled, "Don't worry, Malcolm, we'll get you through this."

The two of them took their trays and left the mess hall giggling together.  Trip knew full well what 'things' they had to do in Hoshi's quarters.

"She's right, you know." he assured Malcolm.  "Your friends will help you through it.  Just don't be afraid to ask."

"I know, love, but I can do without this sort of thing, and it will be a much bigger affair than ours was."

"Well, don't worry yourself sick about it before you have to.  Now, if you've finished playing with your dinner, perhaps we should go, too."

"OK.  This is cold, anyway."

They picked up their trays, dumped the contents into the recycler, and headed for Trip's quarters, which were a bit bigger than Malcolm's, so they tended to spend most of their  time together there. 


Once inside Trip pulled Malcolm into his arms and kissed him.  The kiss was returned warmly and eagerly, till Trip pulled away.

"Tell me, Mal, you really didn't mean what you said - about that other option - did you?"

Malcolm brought his hands round to play with the zip of Trip's uniform, pulling it down a couple of inches, then up again.

"No, love, I wouldn't do anything so foolish, not when I have so much to live for.  I'm looking forward to spending many happy years with you."

"That makes two of us.  Now will you stop playing with that zip and do something serious, like taking it right down?"

"You're giving me the distinct impression that you want me to undress you."

"Now why would I do that?"

That zip had never moved so fast!


                                                            *            *            *


At breakfast with the captain next day, Trip was informed that Crewman Kelly had been temporarily released from her duties in engineering because Admiral Forrest had been so impressed with her organisation of the competition that he wanted her to draw up a set of rules for all the other ships and facilities to use in selecting their representatives. 

"But that's ridiculous, Cap'n." Trip was astounded.  "It's simple enough.  Why can't they just make up their own rules?  As long as they send someone, does it matter how he's chosen?"

"It's not for the likes of us to decide, Trip.  The admiral wants it done fair and square, and that means all using the same rules."

"So how long am I going to be without Kelly in engineering, then?"

"A few days.  I've asked her to get it done as quickly as possible, and to ask for any help she needs."

"Is there any date set for this Grand Final?"  Trip wanted to know.

"Not yet, but I'm sure we'll hear as soon as it is."

"I think I'm beginning to dislike this as much as Mal does."  Trip muttered.

T'Pol, who had been listening to this exchange without comment, now spoke up. 

"I'm sure Mr. Reed will enjoy it when it gets going.  Look at the way he perked up after winning our competition.  I did wonder if he intended to remove more than just his shirt."

"I doubt that very much, T'Pol.  But then, you never can tell with him.  I would never have expected him to do what he did do."  Trip had to smile at the memory of Malcolm taking off his shirt to the accompaniment of 'The Stripper'.

Captain Archer grinned.  "That was certainly an unexpected sight.  But much appreciated by the crew."

"Yeah.  Well, I'd better get down to engineering.  We've got work to do and I'm a man short."  Trip took his leave and headed for the door.


Later that day Trip changed into workout gear and went to find Malcolm who he knew had been busy in the gym instructing some younger crewmembers in self-defence. Now, having finished with them, he applied himself to practising some of his tae kwon do skills.  The crewmen had been about to leave, but when they realised what Mr. Reed was doing, they stopped to watch.  After all, they might learn something.  They moved to the edge of the room and sat on the floor.

Trip had arrived whilst Malcolm was still teaching, but he also decided to just sit and watch the show, rather than using the stationary bikes as he had intended.

Malcolm seemed oblivious of his audience and was unknowingly giving them a fantastic demonstration of the art. He was a seventh dan black belt - and it showed.

Having finished a series of complicated kicks and punches, he stood quietly in the middle of the room, feet slightly apart, eyes closed.  For a moment he stayed thus, just concentrating on breathing, then he started to move - very slowly and in complete contrast to the earlier exercises - he raised his arms up to chest height and swivelled on the balls of his feet to the left, making controlled but gentle movements with his hands and arms.  He continued performing what some of the onlookers now recognised as tai chi.  After the hard, fast and furious kickboxing, this was slow and beautiful to watch.  Trip thought that the way Malcolm was doing it made it look like dancing; it was so slow, so precise, and so sensual.  It lasted about eight minutes and in all that time, Malcolm never seemed to open his eyes. 

When he came to the end, his small but very appreciative audience, burst into spontaneous applause.

He looked around seeing the crowd for the first time, and blushed.  Then he saw Trip coming towards him.

"I've never seen you do tai chi before, Mal."  Trip flung his arm around Malcolm's shoulders, "That was absolutely beautiful.  And real sexy, too." 

"It's not supposed to be sexy.  It's supposed to be contemplative."

"It can be sexy as well, you know. Did you do the whole thing with your eyes shut?"

"Mostly.  It concentrates the mind.  If you know what you're doing you don't need to be able to see."

"Well, you gave those crewmen a great show, kick-boxing followed by tai chi!  They'll be telling all their friends about it right now."

"I thought they would all have gone."  Malcolm picked up his towel and wiped his face and neck.  "I need a shower.  Are you staying here?"

Trip looked over to the bikes that were now both in use.  "Nah.  Don't think I'll bother.  I'll come back with you. Room for two in the shower?"

"You haven't done anything to deserve it."

"Let's get to my quarters and we can soon change that."  Trip grinned. 

"OK. You win." Malcolm smiled at him and led the way from the gym.


                                                            *            *            *


The next few weeks were spent doing things that were 'normal' for the Enterprise crew, that is, they charted new star and planetary systems, had a couple of first contact situations (one of which did not go too well, and resulted in Malcolm getting a projectile wound in the shoulder whilst getting the captain out of trouble), had a dogfight with a couple of hostile alien ships, and suchlike incidental things.  Nothing to write home about, really.


Then one day, Captain Archer called his senior staff together in his ready room.

"I just thought you'd like to know that I had a message from Admiral Forrest this morning.  He says that all ships and facilities have sent in their entries for 'The sexiest person in Starfleet' competition, and they are now ready to proceed to the next phase. 

There are nearly a hundred entrants and so the next two rounds will go exactly as we had them here. Kelly has downloaded all the photos and she will display them on the wall as before.  You will then make your choices, as before."

Travis was looking rather puzzled, as were Trip and Malcolm,  "But, Cap'n." he pointed out, "what's to stop us all from voting for Malcolm and...?"

"I know what you mean, Travis,” Archer interrupted,  "but the powers that be think it will work out."

"Of course," T'Pol suggested, "there will probably be many people who will look at all the photos and judge them on merit, not just choose their shipmate."

"Yeah, and some of the smaller craft may not have anyone particularly sexy on board anyway." Trip suggested.  "They most likely just sent photos of the best of a bad bunch."

"I think you may have it there, Trip,” Archer was pleased they were giving some thought to this, "and we are going to have the next round in two days.  People will have just twenty-four hours to cast their vote."

"So if I'm knocked out of the first round, I won't have to worry about going to the Grand Final."  Malcolm seemed more cheerful. "Well, that's a relief."

"But we have faith in you, Malcolm,” the captain declared.  "I am fully expecting you to be in the top ten, at the very least."

Malcolm groaned. "And how long will it be before the next round, Captain?"

"Forrest wants the final to be held in two weeks time, so it won't be long."

"Well, you'd better hope I am not in the top ten again since it will take us that long to get back to Earth."

"That's why we are heading back straight away at warp five, Malcolm"

"But I thought we were going to investigate that M-class planet we discovered yesterday?" Malcolm was aghast. 

"Sorry, but we've had to put that on hold for another time.  The admiral's orders were explicit.  We have to get back for the final, just in case you are in it."

"This is crazy.  They might at least wait for the results before ordering us back."  Malcolm threw his hands in the air in disgust and looked across at Trip.  "You're not saying much."

"What's there to say?  It seems to be all cut and dried."  Trip shrugged.

"Every cloud has a silver lining, they say," Archer grinned at Trip and Malcolm, "We can put the ship in space dock for a week or two for repairs and upgrades, and the crew can have shore leave."

"Oh, yes," Hoshi giggled, "and for you two it could be a honeymoon."

"My thinking exactly, Hoshi."  Archer smiled.  "Their wedding is planned for next week, so it will be just in time for an Earthside honeymoon.  Don't you agree?"

"Hey, I think it's a wonderful idea, Cap'n." Trip answered.  "Don't you, Mal?"

"Well, yes, it is actually."  Malcolm conceded. 

"OK.  I'll keep you all informed of any progress.  Dismiss."  They filed out of the room to return to their various duties.


Some weeks previously, Malcolm had been the hands-down winner of Enterprise's competition, much to his dismay, but he had really enjoyed the evening once he had got into the swing of things.  The enjoyment had continued back in Trip's quarters when he asked Malcolm to marry him.   The ceremony was to be held on board, Captain Archer would officiate, and video links were being set up to allow both families to witness the occasion.  They had not been expecting a honeymoon.


                                                            *            *            *


Crewmen Kelly and Cutler had spent a couple of hours in the mess hall putting the pictures on the wall.  There were no names attached, just numbers, and Malcolm's picture was about two-thirds of the way along, numbered seventy-three.  With just twenty-four hours to make their choice, there always seemed to be a crowd in front of the photo-wall. 

Trip, Malcolm, Travis and Hoshi stood together surveying it. 

"I can see that you might have a problem here, Malcolm," Travis commented.  "After all, we know who we're voting for, but you have to choose from all these others."

"You're not obliged to vote for me, you know."

"Oh, yes we are.  Do you know what Trip's threatened us with if we don't?"

Malcolm looked shocked.  "Trip, you haven't...?"

"No, of course not."  Travis laughed.  "Just kidding.  We're voting for you because we want to.  That's all there is to it."

"I'd rather you voted for someone else.   But have you looked at the others?  I haven't a clue who to choose.  I couldn't do worse if I went 'Dip, dip, dip', or threw a dart at the pictures." 

"Why don't you turn your back to the wall and pick a number out of thin air? " Trip suggested.

"That's as good a way as any, I suppose."  Malcolm turned away from the wall, thought a moment, then said, "Forty-two."

When he turned back to them they were all looking at a photo of a really pretty girl with blonde hair, blue eyes and a trim figure. 

"Hmm." Malcolm said, "Not bad.  OK, I'll go with her."

"Not literally, I hope?"  Trip grinned.

"Why forty-two, Malcolm?" Hoshi wanted to know.

"Well, you know.  It's the answer to life, the universe and everything.  It seemed appropriate."

They all laughed.  'The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy' was the feature on movie night last week. 

It was the work of moments then for them all to fill in their voting slips and post them in the box.  It wouldn't be too long before the next round.  Just a matter of days.


                                                            *            *            *


As before, the second round was reduced to thirty contestants, and again Kelly and Cutler had the job of clearing the photo-wall and putting back just those thirty.  And again, just twenty-four hours was allowed for casting votes, so as soon as the results were available there was a crowd in the mess hall scouring the photos for their favourite.

"He's here!" A joyful shout came from the front of the crowd.  "The lieutenant's got through."

Whoops and cries of delight were heard, their meaning clear to anyone. 

Trip was among those scanning the board for Malcolm's picture and was overjoyed to see it there. 

"Hey, Kelly,” he called.  "I don't suppose you know what the figures were, do you?"

"Sorry, Sir," Kelly answered from across the room, "they didn't give me that information.  I'm as much in the dark as you." 

"OK.  No worries.  I'll go tell him.  He's still working."

"When's he ever not?"  Kelly grinned.

Trip laughed as he left the mess hall to find his fiancé.


When he arrived in the armoury all Trip could see of Malcolm were his feet and legs protruding from a torpedo tube. 

"You gonna be long in there, Malcolm?"  Trip asked.

"Oh, about one point seven-five metres, I imagine."  Malcolm replied as he slid back out of the tube. 

"Ha, ha! That's funny.  You made a joke."

"It wasn't so funny."  Malcolm wiped his greasy hands on a rag, made some adjustments on a console, then turned to Trip.

"Did you want me for something?"

"Now that's a loaded question if ever I heard one,” Trip had a big grin on his face,  "but seriously, yes.  I came to tell you that the results are out."

"No need to tell me what results you are referring to, is there?  So are you going to tell me, or are you waiting for me to ask?"

"See this grin on my face?  That should tell you what you want to know."

"Oh, no."  Malcolm dropped his head onto his hands.

"Oh, yes.  And guess what?  Number forty-two is still there, too."

"Well that's nice.  At least some people have some sense.  I was really hoping to be knocked out in this round."

"Cheer up, darlin'.  There's still another round to go before the final.  Anything could happen."

The comm beeped.

 "Archer to Reed."   Malcolm hit the button.  "Reed here, sir."

"Malcolm, has Trip given you the good news yet?"

"He has given me some news, Sir.  Whether it's good or not depends on your point of view."

"Well I think it's good news, and we should celebrate it.  I'd like you and Trip to join T'Pol and me for dinner tonight."

"Of course, Sir."  Malcolm said resignedly.  "Trip and I will be delighted to come."

"See you both at 1800, Malcolm.  I asked Chef to do something special and he mentioned having some fresh pineapple.  Archer out." 

Malcolm turned to Trip.  "It has begun again," he groaned, rolling his eyes towards the ceiling


                                                            *            *            *


Twenty-four hours later the photos had been removed from the wall, the votes had been counted and the figures sent to the competition organiser.

But before the next round, however, they would be celebrating Malcolm and Trip's wedding.


It was a low-key affair held in the mess hall.  Chef had baked a cake and excelled himself with the buffet, while Hoshi, Travis and several others, spent the afternoon decorating the room with balloons, banners and streamers. 

The ceremony began at1900 with an exchange of vows and rings, and a kiss to seal the union.  Captain Archer was very proud to officiate at the nuptials of two of his officers, and was grinning all over his face as he said, "I now pronounce you husband and - er - husband."

A party that went on until midnight followed the brief ceremony, and it was without doubt the happiest party they'd had on the ship.


Video links had enabled both families to watch the event, and Trip and Malcolm were able to speak to each family in turn. 

Malcolm's father was not overjoyed with his son's choice of partner, but accepted him graciously, although he did insist on calling him Charles.  Malcolm's mother and sister were both very happy for him and were looking forward to meeting Trip.  It was quite a serious conversation.

Trip's family was the opposite.  They were loud, cheerful and full of advice for the newly- weds.  Trip's Mother wanted to hug Malcolm and said she would do so at the very first opportunity, which had better not be too long.  They sent lots of good wishes as they waved goodbye.


When Trip and Malcolm went to leave the party as it was winding down, they found that the engineering and armoury crews had decided to escort them back to their quarters.  "We're reviving an old medieval custom," Kelly informed them, "where the newly married couple are led to their new home by their friends."

So they had to wait while the procession formed up.  The women, in their pretty dresses, went in front carrying baskets of (artificial) flowers, the men followed behind, and somewhere around was a piper playing some appropriate music. It was a happy procession.  The women danced in front, throwing down the flowers for Trip and Malcolm to walk on.  The men followed behind making lewd comments and jokes.  The happy couple were a little embarrassed, especially when the procession arrived at their door and waited for Trip to open it.  Before Trip and Malcolm could enter, however, the women pushed their way in and scattered the rest of the flowers around the room, especially on the bed.  Then they laughingly left them to it. 

Malcolm shut the door on the unruly crowd and asked, "Whatever did we do to deserve this?"

"I guess that's their way of saying 'We're your friends and we love you both.'  But now we can shut them out, darlin'.  It's just you an' me."  Trip pulled Malcolm into his arms and kissed him tenderly, but Malcolm wanted passion so he deepened the kiss, pushing Trip towards the bed until he had to sit, then he sat astride Trip's lap and started undoing his own shirt buttons.  Immediately Trip started to sing "The Stripper" so that Malcolm had to gyrate whilst removing his shirt, much to Trip's delight.  Moments later they were both enjoying their first night of married bliss.


                                                            *            *            *


The results of the second round of the competition were to be announced at 1600 on Friday, and well before then there was a crowd gathering outside the mess hall.  Kelly decided to do something different this time.  Instead of displaying the ten finalist's photos, she had covered them over so that they could be revealed one by one. But she refused to begin until Malcolm was there. 

She commed engineering.  "Kelly to Commander Tucker."

"Tucker here.  What's up, Kelly?"

"Do you think you could persuade the lieutenant to stop working for a few minutes and come to the mess hall, please?"

"I believe he's in the middle of something complicated.  Can't you manage without him?"

"Well, yes sir, we could.  But it will be much better if he's here."

"OK. I'll have him there in five minutes.  Tucker out."

As good as his word, a few minutes later Trip ushered a somewhat reluctant Malcolm through the doors.

"I really don't know why I have to be here, Trip,” he complained. “I do have a job needing my attention.”

"Aw, gee, Mal, the job can wait a few minutes.  Just get into the spirit of the thing, will you?"  Trip gave him a playful punch on the shoulder and urged him to the front of the crowd.  "Don't you want to see if number forty-two's a finalist?"

"That's the only familiar face I want to see up there."

Kelly called for order and announced,  "I'm going to uncover the finalists one by one, just to make it a little more interesting."

She went to the first photo and took off it's covering.  It was number two.  Number eleven followed and then numbers twenty-five and twenty-eight.  The next to be revealed was number forty-two.  A cheer went up around the hall then, as everyone knew that she was Malcolm's choice.  Then Kelly proceeded to unveil the rest.  Next came number fifty-three, then fifty-five, - then it was number eighty-one.  There were howls of dismay as people realised that Malcolm wasn't there.  He was seventy-three! 

Trip was very disappointed, but Malcolm visibly relaxed.  He was off the hook.

Eight photos had been uncovered so far, and Kelly went to uncover the ninth, number ninety-two.  Finally, Kelly reached up to the last one, but people were turning away.  They had lost interest.

Seeing them leaving, Kelly called out.  "Are you sure you don't want to see this one?"

Most turned back, but they were barely interested.  Trip and Malcolm had started for the door, but turned around at Kelly's words.

She dramatically removed the covering from the final photo, and yes, you've guessed it, it was number seventy-three!

"I was just saving the best till last,” she protested, when she could be heard over the cheering that had suddenly erupted in the room.

Malcolm looked shocked.  He'd been so sure he wasn't a finalist, that now, to discover after all that he was, he was speechless.  Trip, on the other hand, was overjoyed, and he let everyone know it.  He jumped up and down whooping with sheer delight.    His pleasure was infectious.  Soon the whole mess hall was jumping.  Malcolm sat at a table watching the antics of his shipmates, wondering if the whole crew had gone mad.  Then he saw Captain Archer standing by the door with a huge grin on his face.  There was no way he could get out of it now!


When Kelly checked the voting slips for the final round she was not surprised to find that there were eighty-two votes for number seventy-three and one for number forty-two!  She sent the figures off to the competition organiser feeling quite pleased.


                                                             *            *            *


A few days later the ship had arrived at the space dock in Earth's orbit and most of the crew were eagerly preparing for some shore leave.  Malcolm and Trip, with some friends for support, were headed for San Francisco where the contest final was being held.  Captain Archer, together with Hoshi and Travis, was intending to enjoy every moment of the coming event.  Malcolm, of course, was dreading it.

Hoshi had instructed Trip to make sure that Malcolm packed all his sexy outfits, but especially the leather trousers!  Dress uniform would also be essential for the eventual winner, so Trip spent time helping his husband with his packing.

"OK, Mal."  Trip gestured to the  half-dozen bags on the bed,  "I think that's about everything."

"Are you quite sure we've got enough?"  Malcolm asked sarcastically.  "Maybe we should pack one more bag just to be on the safe side."

"Nah." Trip laughed.  "This'll do.  You've got the essentials.  Now we'd better get down to the shuttle bay.  The Cap'n will be waiting for us."

Malcolm sighed and picking up some of the bags, made for the door.  They only just managed to squeeze themselves and their luggage into the turbolift, to go down to the shuttle bay.

They were greeted by the captain and the two ensigns who were all out of uniform and were treating this as a holiday.   Hoshi and Travis cheerfully grabbed the bags and stowed them into Shuttlepod One. 

Malcolm looked at the pod and mused, "Considering the bad luck I usually have in this thing, I don't think I need worry about the outcome of this contest."

"Shut up and get in, Malcolm,” Archer ordered, "or we'll never get there."

Obeying orders, he followed Trip into the pod and found his seat.


They had booked into a hotel close to the convention centre where the final was to be held, and were soon installed in their rooms.  Archer had told the receptionist that Trip and Malcolm were just married, and the manager had insisted on giving them the bridal suite, the main feature of which was the enormous circular bed. 

The ceremony was not till the next day, so the group had a chance to look round the city and see the sights.  They were quite surprised to find the city plastered with pictures of all the ten finalists.  They were everywhere - in shop windows, on hoardings and even on giant screens high up on tall buildings. Hoshi and Travis had great fun running around spotting Malcolm's picture in lots of different places.  Starfleet was making the most of recruiting possibilities.  Finally, they ended up in a small Italian cafe` where they enjoyed various pastas, washed down with Chianti and cappuccino, before heading for their beds and a good night's sleep.


The ceremony was not due to start until 1400, so as they had no need to get up early, Trip and Malcolm made good use of the oversized bed, then shared a bath in an oversized circular Jacuzzi.  Trip made sure that Malcolm dressed appropriately for the ceremony - the leather trousers were a 'must', and Malcolm topped them with a silver grey shirt.  They met the others for lunch in the hotel dining room, where Hoshi complimented Malcolm on his outfit.

"That's a good choice, Malcolm," she commented, "that shirt goes well with your eyes."

"Thank you, Hoshi," he replied,  "but I shall be glad when this is all over."

"Well, the results are in." Travis remarked, "It's really just a case of announcing the winner, isn't it?"

"Yes,” Archer added, "but it's a two hour ceremony, so what are they going to do all that time?"


They found out when they got to the hall.  The programme included musical entertainment

from several groups and solo artistes, interspersed with potted biographies of all the finalists and ending with the actual announcement of the winner.

There was a reserved section of the hall for the finalists and a companion, so Archer, Travis and Hoshi had to find themselves seats in the main body of the auditorium. Trip sat with Malcolm amongst the other contestants and their friends. Malcolm looked around at the others and soon spotted number forty-two sitting with a scholarly-looking type who was probably her boyfriend. He thought she looked even prettier in the flesh. She saw him looking her way and smiled. In return, he gave her his little half-smile, and a wink, which made her laugh. He nudged Trip and nodded towards her. Trip grinned and waved. She blew him a kiss! Then the lights went down and the programme started.

The MC was well chosen for the job.  He had the audience laughing and relaxed within five minutes.  Even Malcolm fell under his spell.  He talked about the competition reminding everyone how the earlier heats had been run, and then explained the prizes that were 'up for grabs' by the winner and two runners-up.  Trip and Malcolm had not heard about the prizes and so were quite interested in what they were.  Lacey and Garrod's, the world's biggest international store, had promised the winner a year's free shopping.  Considering that they sold everything from an egg cup to a private, luxury shuttlecraft, it gave the winner plenty of scope to indulge.  Those coming second and third would each get two and one month's free shopping, respectively.  A round of appreciative applause greeted this announcement, and the finalists were getting quite excited.  Even Malcolm perked up. 

"Just think what we could do with that, Trip,” he whispered. 

"Yeah.  We could buy ourselves a house and furnish it from top to bottom at L & G's."

"Do they sell houses?" Malcolm wondered.

"Dunno.  But we could soon find out."

"Stop it, Trip," Malcolm laughed. "You're counting your chickens."

"I can dream, can't I?"

They were entertained for ten minutes by a music group that was supposed to be wonderful, but really just made an awful noise. Well, that was Malcolm's opinion, anyway.  Then a picture of the first finalist had appeared on a huge screen at the back of the stage, and a commentator started telling the audience all about him.   He was number two; a personable young man aged nineteen, who was a cadet at Starfleet's Training Centre.  People who knew him were interviewed and asked to give their opinions about him, so that the audience would know what sort of person he was.  There were scenes from the Training Centre where all his friends were rooting for him.  His parents, grandparents and two sisters all had their say. 

Malcolm looked at Trip in horror.

"I hope they're not going to do that for everyone!  Please don't tell me they've been interviewing my family, Trip"

"If they have, I haven't been told.  I'm as surprised about this as you are."

"This is going to be SO embarrassing."

Trip took Malcolm's hand and squeezed it gently.  "Hey, come on, darlin', it can't be that bad."

"I hope not." Malcolm smiled wanly, "You know, I'm really glad you're here with me."


Another 'musical' item followed, and then number eleven was given the same treatment.  And so it continued, some music, followed by a potted biography.  Number forty-two was an ensign doing astrometrics.  Her name was Valencia and strangely enough, that's where she was born. 

Inevitably they came to number seventy-three.  Malcolm cringed to see his picture on this enormous screen, and slid down in his seat in an attempt to make himself invisible.  Trip took a tight hold of Malcolm's hand and refused to let go. 

"Number seventy-three is Malcolm Reed," the commentator told them, "a lieutenant serving on board the starship Enterprise. He is the weapons and tactical officer, and he is also chief of security, which makes him rather an important member of the crew.  We were unable to interview his parents, but managed to contact his sister Madeleine, and Aunt Sherry."

"Oh, no!" Malcolm groaned.  "Not Aunt Sherry.  I dread to think what she will say."

"I know she's a little - well - dotty, but I'm sure she'll only speak well of you.  After all, she is rather fond of you."  Trip tried to ease Malcolm's concerns.

Malcolm needn't have worried as both his sister and aunt gave him glowing references. Aunt Sherry told them what a lovely boy he was. "Always well behaved, polite and reliable," she gushed. "I could tell you lots of stories about him but I don't suppose you've got time. And now he is grown up and exploring space, I'm so proud of him."

Next up on the screen came the faces of Hoshi and Travis who spoke about him from the point of view of his shipmates.  They both seemed really pleased to be able to tell everyone what a loyal, dependable friend he was, and how he was always getting the Captain out of dangerous situations.  They didn't spare him, but laid it on very thickly!  They must have been interviewed just before the ceremony started, as they were shown in the vestibule of the conference hall.

Malcolm was very glad when the next musical item was announced. 

Once all the finalists had been shown on the screen, the MC came onto the stage and said that there would be a half-hour interval before the actual announcing of the winners took place.  This was to allow the finalists to go backstage and prepare themselves for the ordeal.  So they and their friends were applauded as they left their seats to depart the auditorium, and, guided by an usher, to make their way to the 'green room' and make-up.

Trip and Malcolm were among the last to enter the, by now, crowded room.  A bevy of girls were waiting to apply make-up and Malcolm was soon being attended to.

"But why?" he asked.  "Surely this is unnecessary?"

"On the contrary," he was told, "without it you will look like death warmed up under those lights.  And your friend will get made-up, too, because if you win, he will be expected to go on stage with you."

The make-up girl took one look at Malcolm - and her knees turned to jelly.  She was entranced.  Unfortunately, she then became so nervous that she was all fingers and thumbs, and kept dropping things.  After Trip had picked up her tool for the third time, Malcolm turned to her and said, "Why don't you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then start again?"

She did as he suggested and was able to complete her work without dropping anything else.  She then worked on Trip before turning to one of the other finalists.

Those who were ready sat and chatted, getting to know each other. Valencia came over to Malcolm and introduced herself.

"Hi, I'm Valencia King.  Val to my friends."

"Malcolm Reed.  Pleased to meet you."

"Ha!  Val and Mal.  That's neat."  Then she asked, indicating Trip, "Is he your bodyguard, your friend or what?"

"My husband." Malcolm answered.

"Aw, shucks." she pouted.  "Just my luck for you to be already spoken for."

"I'm sure you'll meet the man of your dreams one day."

"I thought I had just done that."

Malcolm laughed.  "You're young.  You've plenty of time."

She sighed dramatically  "I knew you were just too good to be true."

He laughed again. "I'm surprised you haven't got loads of young men falling at your feet already."

"Well, there are one or two, if I'm honest about it.  But I quite took a fancy to you." 

"You can fancy as much as you like," Trip joined in, grinning, "just don't touch.  OK?"

"OK,” she said, holding her hands up, "I get the message."  It was all in fun and they were soon chatting amicably together.

"So which of the ten finalists did you vote for?"  Valencia asked Malcolm.

"Actually, I voted for you."  Malcolm replied.

"Wow!" Her eyes lit up.  "Really?  And I voted for you."

They all laughed at this revelation, then Valencia wandered off to rejoin her boyfriend.


Then it was time for the next part of the ceremony.  The stage had been set with a throne adorned with gold and white satin drapes, at one side of the stage was a row of ten chairs, and on the opposite side, the MC stood at a podium.

The first finalist, number two, was announced by name and, entering the stage from one side, he had to walk all the way across to meet the MC at the podium.  This was the only chance the audience had of seeing the competitors in person and hearing them speak as they were to be interviewed briefly before taking their seats on the row of chairs.  Malcolm had been doing some mental exercises to keep himself calm so that when it was his turn to go on stage, he did so with aplomb, grace and dignity.   He acquitted himself well at the interview, answering the inane questions politely, and then walked across to his seat to a round of appreciative applause.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the MC announced when all ten had been interviewed, "it is time to tell you the winners of this little competition.  I have to tell you that the first three managed to score sixty-seven per cent of the votes between them, leaving only thirty-three per cent for the other seven.  There is a very clear line between the top three and the rest, and only two percent divides the third from the first.  This was a very, very close contest, and we had to recount the votes several times.  Well, we didn't want to make a mistake, did we? 

So without more ado, in third place, and with eighteen per cent of the votes, is number eleven, Jason Delfrido."

Jason, a well muscled, blond lad working as a Starfleet technician on Jupiter Station, bounced across the stage from his seat, to the excited applause of his supporters in the audience.  He had a big grin on his face and was obviously delighted even to have come third.

A pretty actress (whose name meant nothing to Malcolm) presented Jason with a big bottle of bubbly, an envelope from Lacey and Garrod’s and a huge kiss.  Amid more applause, he was then asked to take his place on one side of the throne.

"Now it gets more exciting," the MC said.  "Jason had eighteen per cent of the votes, the runner-up had nineteen per cent, and the winner had twenty per cent.  I told you it was close!

And now, it's my pleasure to announce the runner-up.  Number forty-two.  Valencia King."

Malcolm gave her a big smile as she rose to go forward.  He wished she had come first, but was happy for her to have second place.  He was feeling better, having escaped being second and third.  He thought his chances of coming first were getting less all the time.  He looked along the row and decided that several of them were more likely to win than he was.

A popular, young, male entertainer made Valencia’s presentation.  He first kissed and congratulated her, then handed her a bottle of bubbly, an envelope from the store and a huge arrangement of flowers.  Amid tumultuous applause she took her place on the other side of the throne to Jason.

"Now I expect you're all dying to know who is first, but I really think I ought to make you wait a little longer, so here is a new music group to entertain you for a few minutes - ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for  - the Armadillos."

Malcolm was dumbstruck.  The Armadillos were a group of three musicians and a singer from his armoury and security teams.  They were good, but he had no idea they were considered good enough for such a high-profile event as this.  They performed a song called 'Where my heart will take me', and followed it with 'I'm too sexy for my shirt', receiving a well-deserved ovation afterwards.  (It seemed they had been secretly engaged for the event only that morning, when the contest organisers, knowing who the winner was, found out about the group from Enterprise crew wandering round the city.)

"Thank you, Armadillos.  I hope we'll hear more from you in the future."  The MC seemed to like them, anyway.  He went on:

"So now we come to the main event.   Which of these eight fine young people is our winner, I wonder?  I actually do not know.  But I have an envelope here which contains the name you are all waiting to hear."  He waved a gold coloured envelope at the audience.  "I shall now open it."  He broke the seal and removed a folded sheet of paper from inside.  He took his time unfolding the paper while looking at the finalists, who were all by now a little bit nervous.  He looked at the paper and beamed!

"Ladies and gentlemen.  The one you have chosen as the sexiest person in Starfleet is - 


                                                Lieutenant Malcolm Reed!"


Thunderous applause greeted this announcement, Trip backstage dancing up and down with delight.

Malcolm, however, couldn't believe his ears. 

'No'. he thought. 'They must have got it wrong.'

But he was being urged from his seat to go centre stage.  He stood up feeling rather unsteady on his feet, and went where he was asked. 

"Well, Malcolm," the MC said to him, "you look a little stunned."

"Yes,” Malcolm answered, "I am.  Don't you think you had better have another recount? You must have made a mistake."

"No mistake, Malcolm. We had five recounts and they came out the same each time. Like it or not, you're it!  Now, I hope you've got a smile for your audience, because it's something you're going to have to get used to.  There will be lots of audiences expecting smiles from you in the next few weeks."  This remark puzzled Malcolm, and Trip too, but this was not the time to pursue it.  

Two long-legged girls in skimpy costumes appeared and conducted Malcolm towards the throne, settling him on it.  Then they disappeared, only to return a few moments later with Trip.  Trip's grin went from ear to ear and he went right up to Malcolm and hugged him. 

"I'm so proud of you, darlin'," he said.  Then stepped back so that the presentation could be made. 

It was the Managing Director of the store who handed Malcolm his bottle of bubbly and the envelope containing a voucher allowing Malcolm a year's free shopping in any of his stores world wide.

"We decided against flowers for you when a little bird informed us that you are allergic to certain flower pollens.  But I hope you will make good use of this voucher.  You certainly deserve it."

"Thank you very much, sir."  Malcolm replied.  "I'll do my best."

More applause followed the presentation, while Malcolm felt rather uncomfortable but tried not to show it.

Malcolm then, mostly on his own but sometimes with Trip, had to submit to a lengthy photo session, until finally the two leggy girls escorted the pair off the stage. 

Flopping into a chair, Malcolm fanned his face and said to Trip, "I don't want to have to go through anything like that in my life, ever again."

"You carried it off beautifully, darlin'.  They all loved you."

"But what did he mean about more audiences?"

"Dunno.  But I'll find out before we leave here." 

They did find out.  It seems that someone had neglected to inform Captain Archer that the winner would be expected to make the rounds of some of the Starfleet facilities and 'flying the flag', so to speak. 

"This means we'll be kept busy for the next couple of weeks chasing around like headless chickens, from one engagement to another."  Malcolm was not pleased with this turn of events.  He had hoped that once the competition was over, he and Trip could disappear somewhere for some quiet time together.  They had planned on renting a cottage in the English countryside.  A small village in the wilds of Exmoor was their preferred choice.  But it seemed that it was not to be.

There was no peace and quiet for them now, either, as they were whisked back to their hotel so that they could change into dress uniform preparatory to meeting, and later dining with, a group of very senior officers, including Admiral Forrest, at Starfleet HQ.  They had no time to themselves at all for the rest of that day, until they arrived back at their hotel very late, and longing for their bed.  They had seen nothing of Archer, Hoshi and Travis, but suspected that they would have rounded up some of the crew to tell them all about it.

The next day was to be very busy.  They were to visit Starfleet's Training Centre and meet the cadets there.  It would be a full day visit, culminating in an informal dinner with the cadets in the evening. 

They rolled into bed, snuggled up, and fell asleep.  Tomorrow would be a heavy day.


                                                            *            *            *


Breakfast was intended to be taken downstairs in the dining room, but Trip and Malcolm soon found that the ground floor of the hotel was packed to the gills with media people wanting to interview Malcolm.  Trip arranged for them to have breakfast in their room, and they invited Captain Archer, Hoshi and Travis to join them.   Malcolm was expected at the Training Centre to meet the cadets at 10.00.  How they were going to get through the crowded foyer without being delayed was anybody's guess.

"On my own, I could sneak out, Trip,” Malcolm said, "but in dress uniform and with you, it would be well nigh impossible."

"Yeah.  You couldn't exactly climb down a drainpipe dressed like that, now, could you?"  Trip indicated the white trousers and white gold-braided jacket Malcolm wore.

They needn't have worried though, as a security guard from the Training Centre turned up to escort them, and so they were led through the crowds with no difficulties.  Outside, Trip was the first to notice that all the photos were now of just Malcolm, the other nine having been relegated to the rubbish heap, or something.  It was rather daunting for Malcolm to be confronted by his own face every few metres on their route. 

The limousine deposited them at the half-dozen front steps of the Training Centre in good time, and they were amazed to find an actual red carpet was laid all the way up to the doors.  There was also quite a crowd collected to see Malcolm's arrival. 

"Gosh," he muttered to Trip, "I feel like royalty with all this fuss."

"Then I guess you should act like royalty.  Give 'em a wave."

As they stepped on to the carpet there was a burst of cheering, making Malcolm blush slightly, but he raised his hand in a wave.  This gesture was much appreciated and the response he received encouraged Malcolm to repeat it several times on his way up to the doors.  He was met at the top by the principal and turned to wave again to the crowd before going inside. 


The main Hall was abuzz with excitement.  Every seat was filled.  Not only was their visitor today the sexiest person in Starfleet, he was also a bit of a legend.  All new cadets were told of his excellence during his training, and it was rumoured that no cadet had passed out with as many honours as he.  Now they had a chance to meet him and possibly to ask a few questions, and they intended to make the most of it.

At precisely 10.00 the doors at the back of the Hall opened and Malcolm entered escorted by the principal.  Trip and the rest of the Training Centre staff followed behind.  The cadets immediately rose to their feet and stood to attention.  The procession walked down the centre aisle, mounted the steps onto the stage and arranged themselves on the chairs provided.

The principal stood at the podium and addressed the cadets.

"At ease.  Be seated."  They sat as one, gazing in awe at the slight, rather modest-looking figure occupying the seat of honour.

"As you all know, we have been honoured today with a visit by a former cadet of this academy, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed.  Accompanying Mr Reed is his husband Commander Charles Tucker III.  Both men are currently assigned to Starfleet's flagship, the NX01 Enterprise.  Mr Reed is the Weapons and Tactical officer, and Mr Tucker is the Chief Engineer.  Mr Reed is here primarily as the winner of the 'Sexiest person in Starfleet' competition, but as he is here for the whole day, touring the classrooms this afternoon, and joining us for an informal dinner this evening, I have asked him to talk to you now about his Starfleet training and his experiences on Enterprise.  Any questions you may have regarding the competition you will please keep for this evening.  And now I will ask you all to give Mr. Reed a very warm welcome."

And they did.  As Malcolm stepped up to the podium the cadets applauded loudly and enthusiastically.

"Thank you."  Malcolm said when the applause died down, "I wasn't expecting to give a lecture today, so I have nothing prepared.  It might be a good idea if you ask questions and I will attempt to answer them.  Does anyone have a question?"

About fifty hands shot up.  "Ah.  This could be difficult."  Malcolm considered the problem for a moment, then said, "Could someone organise a couple of microphones in the body of the hall, one on each side, please?"

'Someone' immediately disappeared to do his bidding, meanwhile Malcolm continued.

"I suggest that you go to a mike with your question and I will take one from each side of the hall in turn, but please, no more than two or three at any time in each queue."

The microphones were soon in place with cadets lining up at each.

Malcolm looked to one side of the hall.  "Right. First question."

"Cadet Thorne, Sir.  Is it true that when you graduated you took almost all the prizes for that year, and all with honours?"

"Erm - yes.  Next question."

The brevity of his answer rather flummoxed the next cadet, but she plunged in bravely.

"Cadet Bronte, Sir.  Why did you consider it necessary to give the phase pistols a stun setting?"

"Because, Cadet Bronte, dead is dead, and that is not always the best solution.  Many species we encountered were very suspicious of us at first, and that is only natural, so for them it was a 'shoot first, ask questions later' attitude. But by stunning, rather than killing them, we really could 'ask questions later'.  And you needed to be reasonably sure about who was a real enemy, and who was just plain scared.  Choose the wrong setting and you could be in trouble.  That is why I impress upon people not to confuse the two.  Having said that we rarely use the kill setting, stun usually does the job."

"Thank you, sir."

"Cadet Wigmore, Sir. Can you tell us why and how you developed the EM barrier."

"Good question.  Hmm.  The EM barrier, more popularly known as the forcefield, was already being developed. I simply stabilised and refined it. 

'Why' is simple enough.  We had an alien entity in one of the cargo holds.  It was growing fairly rapidly and anyone who got in its clutches was enveloped in its web.  Captain Archer, Commander Tucker and three other crewmen were caught before we realised that it was very slowly assimilating them.  It was impossible for anyone to get close to it, so it was necessary to isolate the cargo bay in order to establish some kind of communication.  And what we needed was a working EM barrier.

As to 'how', well...  Starfleet had actually been working on an EM barrier for about five years, but were unable to get it stabilised. They hadn't been able to find a way to control the particle density.   All the specs were in the ship's database and I had been playing around with them since joining Enterprise.  I had got it to a stage where it was stable for a few minutes but needed to work on it a bit longer.  This emergency gave me the excuse, for want of a better word, to make a concerted effort to get the job done.  There wasn't much time, so the result was very much a jerry-rigged contraption.  But it worked.  Afterwards it just needed some refining, and has been a useful piece of equipment ever since.  Does that answer your query, cadet?"

"Yes it does.  Thank you very much, Sir."

"Cadet Regan, Sir.  This is more of a statement than a question.  Perhaps you could comment on it."

"I'll do my best."

"Thank you, Sir.  You are the chief of security on the most advanced vessel in Starfleet, but you are not the archetypal security chief.  I mean, sir, that you are not two metres tall and built like a barn door, are you, sir?"

"That's quite true, I'm not.  But I do manage to do my job quite satisfactorily."  Malcolm turned to the next questioner, but was stopped by Trip who stepped up to Malcolm's side and said into the microphone, "I think I'll elaborate on that, Malcolm.  You go and take the weight off for a few minutes."  Looking rather bemused, Malcolm did as he was told and sat down.

"OK, so you expect a chief of security to be two metres tall and built like a barn door.  I take it that means lots of muscle?  You may not be able to see it but there is a lot of muscle under that dress uniform, he just doesn't show it off much.  Can't do anything about his height, though, and personally I wouldn't want to.  He suits me fine the way he is."  A ripple of laughter greeted this remark. 

"But what about his qualities that you can't see?" Trip continued, warming to his theme.   "During his security training he reached the highest grades in several martial arts, like tae kwon do and karate, and yet he does the soft form of tai chi and makes it look like ballet.  He's the sneakiest person I know - he can get in and out of a heavily guarded building and you'd never know he'd been there except that he'd bring you some kind of proof.   

And then we come to explosives.  He knows more about explosives than anyone else in Starfleet.  If you were to ask him to make a hole in the ground - say two-point-seven metres wide by one-point-three metres deep, that's exactly what you'll get.  He can calculate precisely how much explosive to use in a particular situation.  I don't know of anyone else who can do that.  He's never happier than when he can make something go 'kaboom'."  Trip used his arms to describe an explosion to his enraptured audience. 

"Now take weapons," he continued.  "His knowledge of weaponry is vast.  And I don't just mean modern day stuff.  He's as competent using a spear, sword, longbow or Winchester rifle, as he is with a phase pistol or plasma rifle.  And since he's been on Enterprise he has learnt about, and become skilled with, many alien weapons too.  Have you heard about the Klingon bat'leth?  He's quite capable of holding his own against a Klingon adversary with one of his own weapons, even though the average Klingon is twice his size.

Another skill he has, which I've never seen him use and really don't want to, is that he can kill with his bare hands.  He has been called the most dangerous man on Enterprise, but in fact, he's probably the most dangerous man in Starfleet. 

And what do you think is his biggest asset?  You won't guess, so I'll tell you.  It comes back to your original question, cadet.  It is his lack of stature.  Y'see, boys and girls, people will keep on underestimating him, and they come off worst each time."  Trip stepped back from the podium, leaving the cadets completely overawed by this information, and turned to Malcolm.  "You can have the floor back, now, Mal."

Malcolm nodded and muttered "Thank you, Trip," then took his place at the microphone again.  He waited for the applause to die down, then said "I don't know how to follow that."

The cadets still had lots of questions, however, and kept Malcolm busy for another hour.  They asked about the ship, the crew, the tactical alert, the various planets and nebulae he had come across, different alien species like the Suliban, and - well - just about anything.  When the session was over the cadets gave Malcolm a rousing cheer.  They were very appreciative of the way he so freely gave out information.  Of course he kept any classified stuff to himself, but what he could tell them, he did.


Lunch for Trip and Malcolm was a quiet time just for the two of them, in one of the V.I.P. suites reserved for visitors   Malcolm had found the morning quite exhausting and his throat was rather dry with so much talking, so was glad of the peace.

"Why don't you stretch out on the bed and have a nap?"  Trip suggested when they had eaten. "We've got an hour or more before the tour starts."  Malcolm looked at the bed and decided it was very inviting.  He removed his fancy uniform, settled himself down and was soon fast asleep.  Trip sat in an armchair by the window where he could watch the comings and goings in the courtyard, and also where he could watch Malcolm as he slept. 

At 1350 Trip shook Malcolm awake.  "Come on, Sleepyhead,” he said, " they'll be back for us in a few minutes."

Malcolm yawned, stretched and declared, "Gosh, I needed that."  Five minutes later he had donned his uniform and was all spruce and ready to go.

The afternoon was less daunting than the morning, since they were only required to visit various classes and watch the cadets at work.  Malcolm couldn't resist getting involved, though, asking questions about what they were doing, making suggestions and generally 'poking his nose in'.  The cadets showed great interest in his input, and listened to him respectfully. 

"Y'know,” Trip said, as they headed back to their suite, "you should take up teaching when you're fed up with space travel.  You've got a way with those kids.  I bet they've leant more from you today than they would in a month normally."

"I think you're exaggerating, Trip, but yes, I would like to teach eventually.  What about you? You know a thing or two about engineering."

"Yeah, I s'pose I should pass on the knowledge before it gets lost."  Trip grinned.  "But we've got a couple of hours now before this dinner we're expected at.  What shall we do?"

"Well, you know," Malcolm purred, "that bed was very comfortable earlier..."

"It was?  Then I reckon we shouldn't let it go to waste."

"No, that would be such a shame."  By the time they reached their suite they were entwined about each other.  It's a good thing they were on the top floor and no one else was around!


After giving the bed a good workout they barely had time for a shower (together) and to dress before going downstairs for the dinner.  Trip wore a white shirt and cream coloured slacks, while Malcolm was wearing his favourite outfit - black button up shirt (with half the buttons left undone) and black leather trousers.  And he still didn't realise how sexy he looked in it.  To him it was just - well - comfortable.

The dinner was a pleasant, informal affair with lots of chatter and laughter.  Only the waiting staff wore uniform, and the variety of civvies was amazing although there was not a single tee shirt and jeans ensemble to be seen.  For the cadets it was certainly a party.

When the dessert dishes had been removed and coffee was served the principal called for attention.

"This will be your one and only opportunity to question Lieutenant Reed about his title of the 'Sexiest person in Starfleet', so I'd advise you to make the most of it."

When the cheering subsided the questions started coming.  There were the obvious ones like how did he feel about being the winner of such a competition, and did Mr. Tucker vote for him?  And some less obvious like, was he going to take up a career in modelling now?  He answered all as honestly and truthfully as he could, and when finally the questions stopped he thought it was all over.  How wrong he was!  Out came the cameras, as all the cadets wanted their own personal photo of him.  He was asked to come round to the front of the table so people could get better pictures, and he graciously obliged.  He stood and sat in different positions as asked, and then there was a shout from further back in the hall.

 "Get your shirt off, Sir, we want to see your muscles."  The cry was echoed all round the hall, "Yes, come on, Sir.  Get it off."

Malcolm looked at Trip.  This was exactly what had happened when he won on Enterprise.  He gave a deep sigh, shrugged, and climbed up onto a table.  Then he started to unbutton his shirt.  Someone in the crowd must have heard what had happened on Enterprise at this point, because the strains of a harmonica playing "The Stripper" were heard, and as before Malcolm played up to it, moving sensually in time to the music, whilst slowly undoing his buttons.  The cadets la la-ed the tune clapping in time as they sang until Malcolm finally flung his shirt across the room.  There was thunderous applause at this action, and cameras were working overtime.  Cadets who were standing close enough were able to see several scars on Malcolm's torso - proof, if it was needed, of the dangers involved in being a security chief.  Malcolm posed as he had the first time, with his thumbs hooked in the waistband of his trousers, then he suggestively undid the top button and toyed with the zip!  The cadets went wild.  They'd forgotten that he was a lieutenant in Starfleet.  To them he was simply a gorgeously sexy man. 

Trip decided to get in on the act again, or maybe to remind them that Malcolm was his and they couldn't have him.  Whatever the reason, he climbed on the table behind Malcolm and put his arms around him, running his hands over Malcolm's chest.  While cameras clicked from all corners, as on the previous occasion Trip worked his hands downwards until he could tuck his fingers into the waistband of Malcolm's trousers.   Then Malcolm turned in the circle of Trip's arms and gave his husband a long, lingering kiss!

When they broke apart, Malcolm jumped down from the table and went in search of his shirt.  As it was handed to him, a cadet asked, "Sir, do you really do tai chi?"

"Yes, why?"

"I thought it was  - er - kinda sissy, Sir."  Cadets standing nearby were rather shocked at this remark.

"Are you saying I'm a sissy?"  Malcolm gave him such a look the cadet blanched and backed away.  The atmosphere in the room had suddenly cooled.

Malcolm pushed his shirt into Trip's hands and strode to the middle of the room, "Clear some of these tables out of the way,” he instructed.  "I need some space."  He sat down and removed his shoes and socks.

Moving into the cleared space, he stood silently in the centre, wearing nothing but his trousers, feet slightly apart, eyes closed.  Then he began the tai chi form.  Beautifully, like a dancer, he moved through the exercise, his muscles rippling with each step and arm movement.  Although performing very slowly he was completely controlled, never losing his balance or missing a step.  The cadets were entranced.  When he came to the finish he stood still for a moment, then he adopted a fighting stance.

"Right," he challenged, “does anybody want to call me a sissy?"

He slowly turned in a circle, looking at everyone, challenging them, but no one stepped forward. What?  Take on the most dangerous man in Starfleet?  Not likely!


He laughed then, lightening the atmosphere.  "Let me assure you," he said.  "Tai chi can be as tough as any of the martial arts, and can take as long to learn properly.  Don't underestimate it."  He took his shirt from Trip and put it on, shoes and socks also.

It was close to midnight by now, so the principal called a halt to the evening, thanked their guests for coming and wished everyone goodnight.  Trip and Malcolm were given a rousing send-off by the cadets, before going up to their suite and falling into bed.  It had been a very tiring day one way and another.                                                         


Tomorrow would be the start of ten hectic days of travelling around the world visiting several Starfleet facilities, posing for photos, signing autographs and talking to various groups of people.  And when all that was done, Trip and Malcolm would be headed for that village in the heart of the Devon countryside, and a few days of peaceful relaxation, before reporting back for duty on Enterprise.  They were both very much looking forward to that and getting back to normal.  Plus, of course, they would now be able to buy a house and furnish it completely, courtesy of Lacey and Garrod's!


                                                            *            *            *



Eventually they arrived back on Enterprise with only a couple of hours to spare before the ship left dry dock and headed into deep space once again.  As the pair exited the shuttlepod they were amazed to find the launch bay area packed with crewmembers eager to welcome them home.  There were balloons and streamers everywhere, and as Malcolm appeared, the Armadillos started singing 'I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt', and making a better job of it than the original group, Right Said Fred.  Malcolm, by now, was quite used to removing his shirt in public, having had to do so a number of times in the last few weeks, and had no qualms about doing so yet again.  He would do anything for the Enterprise crew.  They were his 'family', after all.  So to make them happy, he took his shirt off - one more time!




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