Title: Fraternization

Author: Heidi M

E-mail: earth_to_heidi@yahoo.com

PAIR: Reed/Trip


DISCLAIMER: thank you B&B for the borrowing of these characters



No response. Commander Tucker chewed his food slowly and thoughtfully.

"Trip! Come in, Commander Tucker."

Trip blinked, startled. "Huh?"

"What is with you, lately?" Archer asked. "Your mind seems to be wandering an awful lot."

"Sorry, Jon, don't mean to be impolite. Just, uh, just thinkin' about the warp engines."

"Why, is there a problem?"

"No, no, I just like thinkin' about 'em, that's all."


"Well, yeah. I mean, don't you ever just sit around and think about command-related stuff?"

"Try not to when I'm eating. Especially if I have company."

Trip sighed. "Okay, message received. No more silent thinkin' at the Captain's table. So, what d'you want to talk about?"

Archer shrugged. "Nothing in particular." He paused, reaching for his glass to take a drink. "How do you think the crew is holding up so far?"


"Nobody exhibiting any stress or cabin fever?"

"Not that I've noticed."

Archer nodded. "That's good. You never know how people are going to react, out here so far away from everything."

"We've managed to look after ourselves pretty well, Jon. Learned a few hard lessons, but that's part of the process."

The Captain shifted in his seat. "I was wondering about, uh, friendships amongst the crew. I mean, you and I, we've known each other for a while, so it wasn't really an issue, us serving together. You think the others are forming some kind of bonds?"

Trip looked at him, unsure of what, exactly, the Captain was asking. "Everybody gets along fine. And even if they didn't, we're all professionals here, and we'd deal with it."

"It's just, it's a long time to be out here, without some kind of, well, companionship. We haven't really had to enforce any rules about that before, but with missions potentially taking years, maybe we need to think about it."

Oh, so that's what he was asking. "Look, Jon, I understand what you're saying, but making rules about people's private lives is always a tricky business. I say as long as it doesn't interfere with the running of this ship, it's not something we need to address."

"Yeah, you're probably right."

"Why," Trip asked, with a sly grin, "you got your eye on somebody?"

"No, I do not. A good Captain must look after all aspects of his crew's welfare, that's all."

"Look after, but not necessarily interfere in."

"I got it, Trip. It's a non-issue, until it becomes an issue."

After dinner, Trip left the Captain's dining room as quickly as he could, a bit unnerved by their conversation. Did Jon know something? Was he pumping Trip for information? Well, Charles Tucker would fight against any imposition of rules regarding the crew's free time. Such rules, after all, would directly interfere with his own off-duty activities.

He crossed the mess, crowded with crewmembers, noisy with conversation…and happy. Yeah, Trip thought, glancing around the room, no worries with this crew. Not a frown in the bunch…His gaze lit on Malcolm, sitting with Hoshi and Dr. Phlox. Their eyes met for a split-second, then Trip was past their table and out in the corridor.

No, no rules would come between him and Malcolm.

He strolled along, heading to engineering to make sure everything was all right, and do a final check on the engines before retiring to his quarters. He hummed quietly to himself, an old bluegrass tune, hundreds of years old, but a favourite of his. He crossed the threshold into engineering, expecting to find his staff working away on the list of tasks he'd left them.

Instead, however, he found his engineers standing around in a loose circle, watching two of their colleagues yell at each other.

"What the hell is goin' on?" Trip demanded.

He'd startled them. Guiltily, they turned towards him, parting so he could get through. In the centre of the circle, he found Ensign Dawes and Crewman Jameson, both red-faced, angry.

"Why the hell aren't you workin'?" Trip said, as people continued to loiter around. "Get out of here, all of you, back to your stations!"

He turned to Jameson and Dawes, fixing a glare on both of them.

"One of you gonna tell me what the problem is?"

Silence. They wouldn't even look at him. Ensign Dawes folded her arms across her chest and stared at the floor. Jameson decided to speak.

"I'm sorry, sir," he said. "It's a personal matter."

"Personal?" Trip repeated. "Personal, well that's just great…And here I've just finished tellin' the Captain how well everybody gets along."

He looked at the Ensign. "Dawes, I don't want to put you on report, but you're an officer, and this is unacceptable."

"It won't happen again, sir," she said. "I apologize to you, and I will apologize to the crew."

Trip considered his options. Putting Dawes on report would mean bringing it to the Captain's attention, the last thing he really wanted to do. No need to give Jon any ammunition in this area.

"Here's what I'm gonna do," he said. "I'll let you off this time, but I'm gonna make a note of it, Dawes. It may weigh in any future decisions I make about you."

"Yes, sir, thank you, sir."

"As for you," he said to Jameson, "you're relieved of duty for now, and I'm going to assign you to a different shift. Go to your quarters."

"Yes, sir."

Jameson turned smartly and left. Ensign Dawes' gaze followed him. Oh, this is gonna be trouble, Trip thought, watching her. This ain't over yet.

Finally, Trip made it back to his own quarters. He'd hung around engineering longer than usual, checking everybody's work, making it clear he wasn't happy. He didn't often get angry with his crew, found that it rarely helped the situation. It was just tonight, after that talk with Jon, he was all fired up.

Ain't fate a laugh, he thought sourly. Soon as you say something, you're proven wrong…

There was a soft tap on his door, and he touched the control, knowing full well who it was. A smile automatically broke across his face, seeing Malcolm.

"Mr. Reed," he said.

"Mr. Tucker."

"To what do I owe this honour?"

"I was passing by, thought I'd stop and say 'hello'," Malcolm said, in his irresistibly shy way.

Trip reached for him and pulled him close, bending down to kiss him.

"God, I haven't seen you in what, three days?"

"I know," Malcolm said. "The Captain, for reasons known only to himself, has had me locked in the armoury doing an inventory of everything in there. I'm surprised he's let me out to eat."

"You get it finished?"

"Yes, but I'm afraid to take it to him, in case he gives me another mind-numbingly dull chore to do. Tell me, am I being punished? Have I done something to offend him?"

There was the briefest hesitation on Trip's part. "No, I don't think so."

"You hesitated, there. Why?"

"I did not."

"You did, Trip. Am I in trouble? I wish you would tell me."

"I was just thinking, Malcolm, that's all. The Captain hasn't said anything about you lately."

"Lately? What does that mean?"

"Will you stop being paranoid? Maybe he told you to do an inventory 'cause he wants one."

Malcolm looked up at him, trying to read Trip's expression. "Yes, you're probably right. It's just —" He broke off.

"Just what?"

Malcolm shook his head. "Nothing. I mistrust my senior officers, sometimes, mistrust their motivations. It's something I'm trying to overcome."


Trip pulled away and sat down on his bunk, studying Malcolm.

"You mistrust me?" he asked.

"Well…no, of course not."

"You hesitated there."

"I didn't. You surprised me with the question."

"I'm your senior officer, Malcolm. I think it was a valid question."

With a sigh, Malcolm sat down on the bunk, too. "I'm sorry," he said. "Please don't read anything into it. I've had a bit of unfair treatment—or what I've considered to be unfair treatment—in the past. Makes me overly cautious."

Trip relented, smiling at him again. "Well, I'm over-reacting. Had a bit of trouble in Engineering earlier that's weighing on me." He touched Malcolm's face. "How 'bout we stop talking for a while."

"All right."

They kissed. Trip lay back on the bunk and pulled Malcolm down beside him. It had taken him a couple weeks to coax Malcolm back onto the bed, after that first time where Trip moved things along a little too fast. Now the Lieutenant came willingly enough, although they still hadn't slept together. They'd fool around a lot, touching each other under their clothes, kissing deeply.

Like a couple teenagers, unsure of what to do next, Trip thought about these encounters.

He wasn't complaining. He actually kind of liked it, the anticipation of what was yet to happen between them. And Malcolm wasn't so shy about the physical contact, got quite heated up, pushing his groin against Trip's. It was just a matter of time, Trip knew, before they'd know each other most intimately.

"I want you, Trip," Malcolm whispered.

"I want you, too."

"No, listen. I want you now. Now, Trip."

Trip looked at him. Malcolm nodded, desire blazing in his dark eyes. Trip grinned and pushed him onto his back, climbing on top. Their uniforms were already half-off, and Trip freed himself from his regulation blue tee. Malcolm's hands moved up Trip's bare chest, his breath coming in quick pants, and he moaned as Trip bent down to kiss him again. He pulled Malcolm's tee over his head, then fastened onto Malcolm's nipple, sucking it, while a hand moved down between Malcolm's legs, stroking him.

"Oh god, oh god…" Malcolm moaned, writhing under Trip's touch.

Trip withdrew, eliciting a small, disappointed cry from Malcolm, but the rest of his clothes had to come off, and quickly, too. Trip was feeling not a small sense of urgency to move things along. He stood. The heavy coveralls dropped to his ankles. He pulled off his boots and was left in nothing but his undershorts. Malcolm's gaze strayed to Trip's groin, and just as quickly, he struggled to doff his own coveralls, pushing them down, kicking off his boots. They looked at each other hungrily, then Trip got back on top of Malcolm, kissing him until they were both breathless.

He left Malcolm's mouth and started kissing down his body, over his chest and flat belly, nipping at the waistband of his shorts. Trip hooked his fingers 'round them and tugged them down, breath quickening at the sight of dark hair and long, glistening cock. Without hesitation, Trip went down on Malcolm, tasting him, sucking him, feeling Malcolm move under him.

Suddenly, a pair of fingers were painfully pinching his ear.

"Ow!" he said, lifting his head.

"Sorry," Malcolm replied, breath shuddering in and out of his lungs, "that's too much for me, at this stage."

Trip smiled and came back up for a kiss. "What do you want to do, then?"

Malcolm grinned coyly—and incredibly sexily—back. "I need a good shagging, Commander."

Trip's heart skipped. "On your back, or on your stomach?"

"Stomach, I think, this time."

"Oh Malcolm…" Trip kissed him again, lifting his hips as Malcolm pushed Trip's shorts down.

Trip pressed against him, revelling in the feel of being skin to skin. He was pretty far gone, wouldn't take much to make him come. But who really cared? Surely they'd do this again some time…

Malcolm rolled over, and from a small recessed cabinet above the bed, Trip retrieved a tube of lubricant—one of the very personal items he'd brought with him on this journey. Lying beside Malcolm, he squeezed some out onto his finger, and pressed against Malcolm's opening. The Lieutenant made a small sound as Trip stroked him internally, adding another slick finger, then a third. Malcolm was moving now, pushing back against Trip's hand. He was ready.

Trip got between his legs. He positioned himself and started pushing, slowly penetrating Malcolm, enjoying every millimetre that slid into him. Trip closed his eyes, seeing nothing, knowing nothing but the hot, tight tunnel around his cock. All the way in, he held himself there, breathing heavily into Malcolm's neck.

"Okay?" he asked, in a ragged whisper.


He began to thrust, slowly, then picking up the pace. Malcolm moved in time with him, soft moans escaping him, building as Trip hit his sweet spot. Trip pushed a hand under him, pumping Malcolm. Lord, he wanted to do this forever, it felt so good, the best sensation in the known universe—

He came, shooting into Malcolm in a white hot rush. There was more heat under him, in his hand, as Malcolm finished, long low cry escaping him. Trip slipped out, and collapsed onto the bed. On his side, he pulled Malcolm back against him, and they spooned together, spent and happy.

"I think," Trip said, voice heavy with sleep, "I could really fall for you, Mr. Reed."

"I think I've already fallen, Mr. Tucker."

Trip smiled, pulling Malcolm closer, and they drifted into a peaceful, sated sleep.

"'Mornin' Captain," Trip said, stepping into the dining room.


T'Pol was also there, cutting up a plate of grilled vegetables in her usual deliberate way.

"Sub-Commander, nice to see ya this fine, fine day."


Trip sat down, and the steward hovered at his elbow, waiting for his order.

"Give me a mess of scrambled eggs, a little ham, little sausage, toast with lots of butter, and, if there's any of that blueberry jam left, I'll take a little of that, too, on the toast."

The steward disappeared. Archer and T'Pol exchanged a look.

"Sleep well?" the Captain asked.

"Fine. You?"

"Not bad." Archer paused. "You're very cheerful today."

"Sometimes, you just wake up feelin' good. And that's me today."

The steward returned with Trip's breakfast. The Commander sighed contentedly and dug in.

"T'Pol and I have been talking about this situation with the crew," Archer said.

"What situation is that, sir?"

"What we talked about yesterday. Friendship, Companionship." Archer paused, giving Trip a meaningful look. "Fraternization."

Trip's fork stopped half-way to his mouth. "Fraternization? What're you talking about?"

"Commander," T'Pol said, "Captain Archer is right to be concerned about harmonious working relations between the crew. Human history is full of examples where emotion has overruled good judgement."

Trip stared at her, then looked back at the Captain. "What is going on here?"

"Last night there was an altercation between two of your engineering staff," Archer said.

Trip sighed—how the hell did he find out? "Yeah, and I dealt with it."

"Look, Trip, the crew has to be allowed certain freedoms on this ship, I know that, but we can't have those sorts of displays. Ensign Dawes should have been disciplined."

Trip looked down at his cooling breakfast. There was something more to this, he could feel it. It wasn't only about Dawes and Jameson.

"Well, sir, I'm sorry I disappointed you, but I did what I thought was best."

Archer nodded, and he and T'Pol exchanged another look. The Vulcan arose from the table and silently left.

"All right, Jon, what the hell is this about?" Trip demanded.

"There are rules I could enforce, about fraternization with those of a lower rank. These rules are hundreds of years old, but they haven't been repealed. All I'm saying, is that if there are any more incidents like the one between Dawes and Jameson, I may put those rules into effect. And they would apply to everyone, most especially senior staff."

Trip swallowed, then his temper flared.

"What is this, you taking advice from a Vulcan?" he shot back. "From a creature that feels nothing—that can't be lonely 'cause they don't know how to be? It'd be the wrong move, Jon."

They lapsed into a stony silence, Trip angry, and slightly panicked, thinking: Jon knows about me and Malcolm…

At the same time, however, Trip kind of understood. As you moved up the food chain, you had to keep more of a distance from people, your objectivity becoming paramount.

"Well," Archer said, "I'm not going to do anything about it right now, see how things go."

"Fine. If you'll excuse me."

Trip got up from the table, his breakfast uneaten, but he was no longer hungry.

"But maybe," the Captain continued, stopping him, "people will have to decide which is more important: themselves, or this ship."

Trip held his gaze for a moment, then turned away and left the room, stepping into the mess. He quickly looked around, taking note of who may or may not be a couple, assessing or rejecting in a split second. Dawes and Jameson were there, in a corner, alone. Trip watched them until they noticed him, then he looked away.

With a sigh, he crossed the mess and went out, forcing his mind to kick over to the duty shift before him. He passed the armoury, knew Malcolm was probably in there, so he reached out and ran his fingers along the door as he passed.

Maybe the Captain had a point…

No. Trip shook his head at himself. Don't think that. Never think that.

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