"Human Touch - Part Two: Triad"

Author - Surya | Main Story | Rating - PG
Trip * Malcolm Fanfic Home

Author: Surya

Rating: PG

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 modifications.”

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 logical conclusion.

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.

“I know.”

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 reflective mood.

“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 Malcolm?”

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 T’Pol?”

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 apprehension.

“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 yet.

“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 comical.

“It’s about Malcolm. He’s been having nightmares ever since we got him back from the Solorians.”

“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 about it.”

“No, it was my idea, but he said I had to clear it with you before he’d let me treat Malcolm.”

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 Reed?”

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 exactly.”

“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 limit.

“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 breathe.”

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 bunk.

“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 know.

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 lost.

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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