TITLE: After The Ritual


E-MAIL: Adahy@Softhome.net

DATE: 12/11/01

ARCHIVE?: Please do! Just ask beforehand, so I know where it goes.


PAIRINGS: Reed (solo)

TYPE: Slash

RATING: NC-17 (just to be safe.)

STATUS: New, complete

SPOILERS: Tiny one for Fight or Flight.

SUMMARY: Reed's reflections after a rough day.

DISCLAIMER: You know the drill. The whole ST universe isn't mine, and if I said it was, you would die laughing.

WARNINGS/COMMENTS: This story deals with strong adult content (homosexuality and self-pleasure). If your underage or sensitive to that, do not read this fic. Any letters received that tell me in so many words, 'how dare I write this smut,' will be trashed. That *was* your final warning!

All other comments warmly welcomed on, or off list. (Just as a side note, please direct all detailed grammatical correction comments to me off list, thank you.)

Special place for the thanking of Beta people: Edna, Juli, and Steel. Proof that any good beta is worth their weight in gold, or chocolate. With their help, this became a much better story.

Lt. Malcolm Reed waited for the doors to his quarters to shut before letting out a growl of annoyance. In the safety of his private quarters he could let the mask he wore slip away. He glanced to the pillow atop his bed, and, with what was becoming a nightly ritual, seized it up and smacked it firmly into the wall. He repeated the motion, taking some comfort in the loud repetitive thump. He had learned long ago that it was easier on the knuckles, and his belongings, to take out his frustrations on the bedding.

He was angry at himself just for being angry. His station aboard the Enterprise was the best thing that had ever happened to him…and yet the last few days had driven him to distraction. Again, the weapon's system had failed. Again, he had let his Captain and the ship down. His Captain…shame burned his cheeks. His arms grew tired, and he let them drop to his sides. Dragging the pillow, he moved over to the bed and sat down.

He thought about going down to the gym. It had been a few days, and he could always take out his frustration at the equipment; but he changed his mind. He wanted to be alone. On a Starship one had little privacy. The stillness of his quarters was what he needed.

He looked over to the wastebin by his bed, it was half full, and made a mental note to empty it later.

Alone. Yes that's it, he thought to himself. He had chosen that too, or had it chosen him? He wasn't really sure. No matter, it was true. It wasn't like he could wear a pin proclaiming "I'm gay, want to hook up?" And even if he had the luck to stumble across another like- minded crewmate, he wouldn't act on it. Placing emotions and work in the same place was never a good idea. It endangered the lives of others, and his own. He knew that lesson well.

It wasn't like he was completely forced into silence. Starfleet has a strict code on discrimination of any kind. But there was a difference between the regulations and what truly happened on and off duty. He had seen and heard about incidences, that left him feeling icy. It had forced him to keep silent, not daring to risk his career and sanity. He had tried once, to step up where he could to help another; but it had been too little too late. He was one voice in a sea of people who didn't really know or care. He knew his very silence was part of the problem, but could not bring himself to speak up. He was a private person, and even if he wasn't gay, he still wouldn't have a relationship with another crew member.

Turning his thoughts away from something he didn't want to think about, he looked down to his lap where he was absently caressing himself. Letting out a sigh he pulled his hand away. With a sour grin, he pushed away from the bed. All he had was his hand, and he was sure as hell going to enjoy it properly.

He made a trip to the lavatory, then came back and stripped his clothing and changed into a pair of sweat shorts and tee. As he made one last pass around his quarters before he turned in, he ran a mental checklist. Boots by the bed, electric torch on his night stand, nothing left out for him to trip over, in case of an emergency, when he might have to leave quickly. He walked over to a small lockup, bolted to the wall, and punched in his security code. The door clicked open and he pulled out a phase pistol. He checked to make sure it was set to stun. He knew it was, but always made it a point to check each night. He placed it on the night stand within reach. He took out a few napkins from where he kept them stored and then dropped onto the bed again.

As he lay back, he recalled where he had left the pillow and leaned over the bed and picked it up. He gave the pillow a few good punches to even out the stuffing and lay down. Not wasting any time, he reached down and tugged down his shorts. He only pushed them far enough to give him easy access to what he needed. He was already half hard in anticipation of what was coming. Licking his lips, he took himself up in a firm grip. As he pumped his hand in a slow easy manner, he let his mind wander back to the events of the day.

He replayed each tactical simulation he had done that day over in his mind. The variance was still off, but he couldn't figure out the reason. He wasn't an engineer, but he knew his trade well. It infuriated him that he could not find the answer. If they were under ideal conditions, he would put in a request for the whole bloody system to be put under an overhaul back home…but that was impossible.

Speeding up his hand he let the problem drop. It would be there tomorrow, waiting for him.

His thoughts tumbled back to a invitation by Commander Tucker a few days ago. The crew was putting together a little "get to know each other better" party. The Commander had also pointed out a young ensign who Trip claimed had her eye for him. "Go on, ask her to the party! Y'all make her week."

Malcolm laughed. The lieutenant would rather ask Trip, than the young lady…Malcolm could see it now, him asking the tall dashing Commander to the party. "Sure," he said in a low voice. It hurt to hide such a large part of himself from friends. Sure, he had not known most on board that long, but he was getting to know many of them well as time passed.

In a way he felt more like their resident Vulcan science officer, than his fellow humans in how he kept himself in check. Letting out a humorless laugh, it was a first, for his thoughts to turn to a woman, while he pleasured himself.

He didn't regret his decision to serve in Starfleet. It was who he was. He knew what he would have to give up, to follow that dream. However, despite that, it was still hard for him at night, thinking about what he had given up. He wanted a relationship, not just for the sex, but for someone to care for him. He wanted someone to come home to at night and share his day with—his life with. Those thoughts would get stronger as time went by. At any time, he could leave his job; but that thought hurt as much as the loneliness.

Sliding a thumb over the tip of his erection, he paced his strokes in a more steady rhythm. He tried to chase away the loneliness that ate at his heart, by focusing on the caresses of his hand. His movement was well practiced; he knew exactly how to drive himself to the edge quickly. Within minutes his heart raced and his face flushed, it wouldn't be long.

As much as he tried to keep his thoughts on the here and now, they wandered back to the faces of his crewmates. He hated himself when he did this, but had little control at that point, and any real rational thought flew out the airlock. His thoughts strayed to the captain. He could not help wondering about those unreadable expressions that Archer occasionally shot him. Numerous times on the bridge; the near dark yet, arousing look in the armory when he slid down the ladder railing to startle both he and Mayweather; the comment on being a good two meter-man. His thoughts digressed from there to the large expanse of his imagination. What did his skin feel like? What would his expression look like when his captain was aroused? What did his moan sound like?

His body tightened up and he knew without thinking he had hurtled past the point of no return. He gave in to the sensation, and would deal with the consequences later. He brought his other hand up to try and control the mess he was about to make. He cried out, having faith in the near-soundproof walls. His hips bucked, back arching upward, and his warm essence covered his hands. He rode out the waves of pleasure. For a sweet moment he was oblivious to the pain in his life.

With a final shudder he lay still. Letting his eyes slide shut. He paused, savoring the aftershocks, then blindly found the paper napkins he had ready.

He cleaned himself in a few swift movements. His hand fell to the side of the bed, letting the used napkin fall into the waiting receptacle, to join the others.

Adjusting his clothing, he sat up long enough to turn out the light. But darkness didn't shut out the thoughts that came rushing back in.

Breaking with his ritual he let out a long deep sigh,

"I have a problem," he whispered.

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