TITLE: A Social Drink

BY: HeidiM

E-mail: earth_to_heidi@yahoo.com

DATE: 01/11/02

PAIRING: Malcolm/Trip

RATING: G to PG, nothing serious

STATUS: complete

WARNINGS: none, other than I am never a purist, and have been known to take great liberties with these TV shows (not this time, however)

DISCLAIMER: I don't own these fellas, but damn they're sexy.

"Mal! Leiutenant Reed! Wait up!"

Malcolm slowed his pace but didn't quite stop, letting Commander Tucker catch up to him. "Geez, you're in a hell of hurry. What's the rush?"

"I have a few personal matters to attend to, Commander."

"Well, I wanted to let you know we've finished our overhaul of the left phaser bank. It's ready to be tested."

"Thank you, sir."

"So, you really busy right now? Those ‘personal matters' highly important?"

Malcolm looked at him, perplexed. "Well, ah, sir…"

"It's okay, Mal. I thought maybe I could buy you drink, if you weren't busy. I don't feel like I've gotten to know you yet, and I want to do something about that."

Malcolm's heart leapt in his chest. A drink, alone with Commander Charles Tucker the third, he of the sandy hair, piercing eyes, wide shoulders, narrow waist…

"But, if you don't have time –" Commander Tucker was about to turn away.

"No, sir. I mean, that would be fine, sir."

"You sure? I don't want to force you into anything."

"You're not, sir."

"And that's another thing. We're not on duty. Drop the ‘sir' and call me Trip."

"All right. Trip."

Or Charles, Malcolm thought, what I call you in my fantasies…

"Okay if I buy you that drink in my quarters? I've got a nice bottle of scotch stashed there."

"Sure, sir – er, I mean, Trip."

"Let's go."

Trip talked non-stop the whole way to his quarters, which suited Malcolm just fine. Apart from a few "Oh, yes's," and "really's", all he had to do was concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, determined not to stumble over any phantom obstacles and looking like a fool. He was hyperaware of the closeness of the other man, especially in the turbo-lift. In that closed, confined space, Malcolm breathed deeply through his nose, taking in Commander Tucker's scent. Lord, he smelled good.

"You're kind of shy, aren'tcha?" Trip said, as he unlocked his quarters.

"Well, I suppose I'm more on the quiet side."

Trip nodded and smiled, then gestured for Malcolm to preceed him into his quarters. Malcolm stepped over the threshold, and into a room very similar to his own. A bunk, a small workspace, storage cupboards, one chair. Everything dull grey. Trip had a 3-D image on the wall, a landscape of rolling hills and forest. Malcolm stepped closer to look at it.

"That's where I'm from," Trip said, getting out the scotch and two glasses. "That's the view out back of my parent's house."

"It looks very nice."

"Oh, it's nice all right. Never too hot, never too cold, always a fresh breeze comin' down from the hills. And a thousand songbirds to wake you up every morning."

Trip had moved up behind Malcolm, two glasses in his hands. Malcolm turned around and felt the blood rushing to his face, he was startled by Trip's close proximity, well inside the boundary of personal space.

"Here you go," Trip said, handing him a glass.

"Thank you."

"What shall we toast?"

"Um –" Malcolm could never come up with anything witty when under pressure.

"To new friends," Trip said, tapping his glass against Malcolm's.

"New friends."

They drank, Trip watching him over the rim of his glass.

"You want the chair or the bunk?"

"Um, ch-chair would be fine," Malcolm stammered.

They sat, Malcolm very straight in the chair, Trip all loose limbs, lounging on his bunk.

"So, tell me something about yourself, Malcolm. What do you like to do when you're not playing tactical officer?"

"I, uh, I read."

"What do you read?"

"Oh, anything really. I like a good history just as well as an adventure novel."

"The only thing I ever read are schematics," Trip said, sipping his scotch. "By the looks of the shape you're in, you must spend a fair bit of time in the gym, too."

Malcolm felt both pleased and embarassed that Commander Tucker had noticed his body.

"It's my duty to keep in shape. I have to be prepared for any contingency."

"I've seen you working out with T'Pol."

Malcolm shook his head. "I'm amazed at her strength. She scares me a little."

"She scares us all a little, Mal, even the Captain. What do you two talk about, when you're in the gym together?" "We don't really talk. Vulcans aren't ones to chat. I do think, however, that their physical regimens have something to do with retaining self-control. It seems to be a way of working out any latent emotion that may be lurking just under the surface."

"Very observant, Mal. You could be right. Like another?" Trip waved his empty glass at him.

"Yes. It is very good scotch."

"Glad you like it."

Trip got off the bed and reached around Malcolm for the bottle. Malcolm froze, not sure which way to move as Trip's arm brushed his neck and shoulder, and more of the Commander's heavenly scent washed over him. Too soon, Trip pulled away again, refilling their glasses, taking the bottle with him back to his bunk.

"So," Trip said, in his most casual tone, "anyone on board caught your eye?"

Malcolm nearly choked on his scotch. What a question!

"Is that too personal?" Trip asked.

"Well…I…" Malcolm trailed off, his throat going dry.

"I'll go first then," Trip said, while Malcolm's heart started pounding. "I noticed this person the first day the crew was assembled, back on Earth. I noticed dark hair, dark eyes, a hard body, and a personality that was a little on the quiet side. Which completely belied this person's job, seeing as he had control over all the weaponry, and knew how to use it. Very unusual for tactical officers to be so reserved and thoughtful. I want to get to know this guy, I thought. He must have some secrets."

Trip paused and smiled coyly. "What do you think?"

Malcolm thought his emotions must be plainly written on his face – joy, surprise, fear, mostly fear. He stared at Trip, hardly daring to breathe, not trusting his voice to be steady.

"It's fine," Malcolm finally managed.

Trip burst out laughing. "‘It's fine'?" he repeated. Then he got up off the bunk and came over to Malcolm, kneeling before him. "Well then," he said, putting his hands on Malcolm's face, "do you mind if I kiss you?"

Malcolm shook his head, lost in the other man's gaze. Trip leaned in, his lips touching Malcolm's in a gentle first kiss. Malcolm's eyes slipped closed, giving himself over to the sensation that all too quickly came to an end.

"Come here, Malcolm," Trip said, taking his hand and leading him over to the bunk. "Lie down with me."

They lay facing each other, Trip stroking Malcolm's face, looking into his eyes. Malcolm was a little afraid to touch the Commander back, even though he really wanted to.

"Shy Malcolm," Trip whispered. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to. I'm not in a rush."

In response, Malcolm swallowed down his trepidation, and kissed Trip, feeling the Commander pull him close. Their lips parted, Trip's tongue touching Malcolm's, exploring just a little. But what were they really doing here? Malcolm pulled back again, having sudden doubts. Trip was surprised, but let him go.

"What's the matter?"

"Did you bring me here just for this?" Malcolm asked.

"I don't get what you mean."

"Well, you said earlier that you wanted to get to know me. I guess this is one way of doing that…"

Trip sighed. "I do want to get to know you, Malcolm. And I also said that I'm not in any rush." Trip stroked his cheek with the back of his fingers. "Now listen, we have to work together, and if we want to be together, too, we can't start out all wrong. So, if this isn't right for you, just tell me, and we'll approach the problem from another angle."

Trip smiled encouragingly, and Malcolm couldn't help but return it. "All right," he replied. "Maybe this is a little too fast."

"I really did just want to have a drink and a talk. This was a bit of a bonus."

"I didn't mind."

"Well, okay, Mr. Reed, as long as we can get together again soon."

"Yes, definitely."

Trip got up, giving Malcolm room to climb off the bunk.

"I'll, um, I'll see you tomorrow, then," Malcolm said.

"I suppose you will."

"Thank you for the drink."

"Mal," Trip said, shaking his head at the sudden formality.

He leaned down and kissed him, holding it only for a few seconds, breaking off long before Malcolm really wanted him to.

"Sweet dreams," Trip said.

"Yes. You too."

In a daze, Malcolm left Commander Tucker's quarters. Sweet dreams indeed, he thought, sweet dreams indeed.

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