Title: Mirage

Author: Lara Bee

Email: lara_bee@lycos.com

Website: http://home.arcor.de/macx/enterprise/enterprise.html

Date: 06/04/02

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Series Title: Mirage

Summary: Trip has an allergic reaction to a plant that causes him to inadvertently reveal his desire for Malcolm.

Sequel to: Cause and Unexpected Effects

"No problem, Cap, we're doin' just fine here. See ya in three days."

Commander Trip Tucker closed his communicator and sighed inwardly. Not that he minded having a little shore leave, no way. Or the fact that he was on this planet, alone, for three days, with one Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, mind you. It was rather the fact that he was on this planet, alone, for three days, with one Lieutenant Malcolm Reed! Why was it that every time he seemed to get stuck with one crewmember it always had to be this particular one?

"Commander?" the soft, slightly hoarse voice of his armory officer pulled him out of his thoughts. Slightly hoarse? What the hell was he thinking again?

"Well, Malcolm, we're stuck here. Rescue mission, Enterprise won't be back for three days. Think you can handle bein' here with me?" Ouch, what was he saying there? It earned him an unreadable look from grey eyes.

"I managed once, I'll manage again. At least we're not threatened running out of oxygen on a planet's surface."

Yep, definitely ouch. Pull yourself together, Tucker.

"All right. Let's set camp then. It's getting' dark already."

Malcolm woke, wide awaken instantaneously. Being a light sleeper by nature, on a foreign planet and as chief of security, thus somehow responsible for his senior officer's safety he was more alert and cautious than usual. Malcolm looked around, trying to figure out what had woken him, but wasn't able to detect any immediate danger and relaxed a little. But then he heard it.


It wasn't much more than a strangled whimper, and it came from where Trip was sleeping. Malcolm was at his side in no time.


Tucker didn't react.


This time Malcolm reached over, carefully shaking the sleeping man. They had been stuck together several times after the incident in the shuttlepod, but he had never seen Trip having nightmares. He pulled his hand back in shock as he realized the temperature radiating from the other man. Trip Tucker definitely had developed a fever.


And he was talking in his feverish sleep, whimpering and tossing like fighting some invisible enemy off. Or maybe he was trying to reach someone…?

"I'm here, commander." Malcolm tried to soothe the agitated man, tried to get through the fever that raged through the other man's body, though Reed had no idea what might have caused this, if Trip had been sick before—or if this was infectious.

"Don't leave me…"

Now this was coming as a kind of surprise. Malcolm froze, unsure of what to do. Clearly Trip was ill, and he had to do something about it., if he only knew what


There it was again, in an almost pleading voice. Trip had started to stir again, toss and turn in his fever-induced sleep, calling out for—him? Even if ill why should his commander do something like this? Reed touched Trip's forehead again, and it felt hot and dry against his skin. Not good. Not good at all!


"I'm here." he answered levelly, hoping that Tucker would hear him, that his presence would comfort the man.

A hand jerked up, grasping his wrist, blue eyes flew open, looking at him without really seeing him.

"Don't go."

"I'm not planning on going anywhere, commander."

"Please…promise?" Tucker pleaded.

"Don't worry, Trip. I'll stay," he soothed the man.


"Promise," Malcolm reassured him gently. Somehow it seemed to reach the agitated man, penetrate his fever fogged mind, because Trip smiled faintly and closed his eyes, falling back to sleep. Malcolm stroked his skin again.

It was getting warmer.


And he had no clue what was causing this.

Trip seemed to get better when morning came, finally falling into a more healthy sleep. Nevertheless, Malcolm wasn't able to really reach him. Tucker woke for a few minutes, and Malcolm took the opportunity to get some fluids into the man, and then rest himself. After one or two hours of sleep he was awake again, checking on Trip to find the fever was still there, but had gone down a little. Reed heated up some rations on the campfire and tried to wake up Trip again. The other man opened his eyes and could be talked to, a few words at least, but that was that. Malcolm sighed and put his food away, looking at the sleeping man, curled up into his blankets. It was going to be two very long days.

The next night Malcolm didn't get much sleep. Trip had started tossing and turning again, mumbling words Reed couldn't quite understand. He was burning up with fever when Malcolm touched his skin, and he cried out again.


"Trip, I'm here."

"…don't go, please…don't leave me…alone…" the engineer murmured pleadingly.

Malcolm wondered what it was that terrified the other man in his fevered dreams that much, especially at night, what it was Trip Tucker was hallucinating about.


It was a pitiful, sad and pleading cry, piercing something deep inside Malcolm's soul. Whatever it was, it had something to do with him leaving Trip, but he had never done something like it, so it couldn't be a memory. In addition, it was getting more and more difficult to get through the fevered haze and reach Trip, get him to calm down. To even more complicate things, Trip developed a shivering fit every now and then, and didn't seem to be able to get warm, regardless of how many blankets Malcolm piled up around him. Finally Reed didn't see another choice but to simply share body heat, and he slipped beneath the blankets, embracing the whimpering man from behind. He remembered something his mother had done when he had been sick as a child, and started rocking the other man in his arms, gently stroking a thumb over Trip's temple. It had an immediate effect on the engineer, calming him down within the second. With Trip closely snuggled in his arms Malcolm closed his eyes and fell into a light slumber.


The third night started bad and got even worse. Malcolm didn't know how long he could go on like this. He had tried to get some more fluids into Trip's already dried out body, but he hadn't been too successful. And then it had begun again, Trip screaming for him, breath shallow and voice hoarse. The armory officer had crawled behind the sick man, embraced him and gently stroke his temple, whispering reassuring words into his ears.

"Mal…nooo, please…stay…"

It was more a sob than anything else, a heartbreaking plea not to be left alone. Reed still didn't understand it.

"Trip, I'm here." Somehow Malcolm felt like a broken record, repeating the same words again and again.


"Yes, Trip. Come on, rest. I'll watch."

"You're not leavin'?" Trip wanted to know, voice small and almost like a child.

"No way. I'll stay," he promised.



"Love you…"

Malcolm held his breath at this unexpected whisper. He didn't get any chance to think it over because the very next seconds another shivering fit started, and he had his hands full of trembling engineer. When Trip had calmed down again and went lax into his embrace, Malcolm thought he must have been mistaken. He closed his arms around the other man more tightly, and frowned at the heat that was radiating from the frail body, through the fabric of the uniform. Trip Tucker was literally burning up. Another close look told Malcolm, that there was more about it, that Trip didn't fall asleep this time.

This time it was worse.

This time it was a coma.

Malcolm gritted his teeth in frustration after he checked the time.

It would need a miracle for Trip Tucker to live to see Enterprise again. He tightened his embrace around the engineer, resting one hand on his chest, right over the heart, felt it beating rapidly under his touch, and he let his head fall onto Trip's shoulder, listening to his rough breathing. It wasn't much, but at least he felt life, even if this life was fading away fast.

He almost cried in relief when he heard the soft chirp of Trip's communicator. Sometimes even in his world miracles happened.

Malcolm remembered little of the flight back. The shuttlepod with Mayweather, Phlox and Archer had landed just an hour after the contact, and from then on, the doctor and the captain had taken over. Phlox because of his medical knowledge, Archer because he was Trip's best friend. Reed just stepped back, giving Mayweather a small nod, telling the helmsman he was okay, and then he hadn't said more than what had been necessary.

Archer had demanded a report and Phlox had listened to the armory officer relaying details of the previous nights, Trip's symptoms, and what he had done to treat him. When they were finally in the shuttle bay, Phlox had whisked Trip off to sickbay, Travis had returned to the bridge, and Archer had told Reed to get to sickbay, too—just to get himself checked out.

"Commander Tucker developed an allergic reaction towards a certain part of the local flora."

"Wait a minute, doc. Are you telling me he had a—hay fever?" Archer blurted. "In simple terms you could say that, Captain," Phlox answered, keying in some commands on his scanner.

Malcolm crossed his arms over his chest. "Doctor, I might be mistaken, but under ordinary circumstances a hay fever doesn't kill somebody."

"Under ordinary circumstances it doesn't. But out here, circumstances are often far from ordinary, Lieutenant, as you certainly have become aware of by now. This wasn't normal hay, and it wasn't a normal fever. The reaction was toward a certain plant that was blooming only at night, which explains the decrease of symptoms at daylight. It would have killed Commander Tucker within the next two hours."

Malcolm felt like punched in the stomach. That close! Good heavens.

"You have done whatever you could, Lieutenant. He may have not survived that long without you," the Denoblian added.

"Thank you, Doctor." Malcolm nodded his thanks and turned toward the door, his face not giving away any of the emotional turmoil he felt at the moment. And he had no idea what had caused it, only that it had something to do with Phlox' rather innocent comment.


The hoarse whisper that came from the bio bed made him stop dead in his tracks. Trip was out of the coma, but he still was a bit delusional.

"…Mal…don't go…"

There it was again. Malcolm didn't hesitate, reacting out of sheer instinct to the sobbing sound, the sad tone in the pleading voice and rushed over to the bed, taking Trip's hand in his own.

"I'm here…" he whispered, slowly caressing the man's temple with his thumb. Reed had completely forgotten about two other men, watching the scene in front of their eyes with puzzlement.

"Don't leave…" Trip begged.

"I won't."


"Promise," he said softly.

"…love you, Mal…"

Reed felt the grip of Trip's hand become lax, as the engineer relaxed and slipped into a healing sleep. He didn't care who saw what, all he knew was Trip Tucker was healing, he would be able to look into those blue eyes again, listen to his voice…

The rest of the world be damned.


Reed didn't need to look up from his PADD to know who was approaching him. Trip. Commander Tucker. The man who had declared his love for him twice before, always under the influence of a fever. The second time, there had been witnesses and Reed was glad that both Phlox and Archer had decided not to make anything out of it. They had actually pretty much ignored the feverish plea.

"Commander," he answered neutrally.

"Am I interrupin' somethin'?"

"Not at all. Please, take a seat." Not only a seat…whoa, where had that come from?

Tucker looked slightly apprehensive. His usually be-happy expression was overshadowed by an inner turmoil. "Malcolm, I…uhm…when we…you know, when I was ill…I seem to recall some things I might've done, or said."

"Commander," Reed interrupted the stammer, "there is no need for this. You were the perfect gentleman."

Perfect gentleman?

Trip swallowed.

Interesting choice of words there, Lieutenant.

And why was Malcolm so formally distant all of a sudden? What was it with the 'commander' again? Damn if he could figure the Brit out!

"Mal, I'm sorry, but I seem to remember somethin' else. Please, tell me what I've done."

Reed sighed, eyes flicking to his work, then back at his superior.

"The truth. Please?" Tucker asked.

Another sigh, but finally Malcolm switched off his PADD. "After you declared your love for me, or before?"

Declared. Love.

Oh, shit!

Trip felt his heart skip a beat, his face fell. He had done it. Really done it…so much for perfect gentleman.

"Aw hell," he whispered.

Without a further word Trip staggered to his feet and stumbled across the mess hall, not really caring where he was heading. All he wanted was to get away, get away from these scrutinizing accusing eyes he adored so much.

Trip had no idea how he had managed to get to that table at the far end of the mess hall, or where the bottle in front of him had come from. All he knew was that its contents ran smoothly down his throat, lightning a welcome fire in his stomach, and leaving him numb slowly, helping him to get rid of a certain image, those blue-gray eyes that seemed to have burned themselves into his mind. He was off duty, so getting drunk would cause no more problems than he already had. Sexual harassment.

That was it called, that was what he had done. Approached a subordinate officer. No excuse for that. Never.

He gulped down another shot, enjoying the sharp burn of the amber liquid on its way down.


Great, just what he needed right now, his friend and captain, coming here, and much certainly demanding answers. Did Malcolm already report his inappropriate behaviour? Archer sat down on his side.

"You sharing?"

"What?" he managed.

"Well, either the whiskey or a certain armory officer."

What the hell…? Keep your hands off Malcolm! Wow, wait, where was that coming from? Hm, probably right from the same braincell that had given him a few suggestions earlier on already.

"Whatcha talkin' 'bout, Jon?" he asked, not looking at his friend.

"I was there, in sickbay. I heard you," the captain clarified.

Trip groaned and let his head sink onto his folded arms. Where was a black hole to crawl into when you needed one? Of all the things he needed…

"Who knows? T'Pol? Hoshi?"

"Only the doctor."

Bad enough. "Charges?" he sighed, ready to accept whatever came his way.

"Charges?" Archer echoed, sounding a bit bewildered.

"Sexual harassment, Jon. That's what I did. He's pressin' charges on me?"

"No, not that I know." Archer sounded slightly mystified.

Trip sighed and looked up again, meeting his superior's thoughtful glance. He hated it when Jon got like that. On one side he knew the man as well as no one else, but on the other side he was always at a loss when it came to those curious expressions. Something was going on behind that slightly wrinkled forehead and Tucker had a hell of a time figuring it out.

"Now, are you sharing?" Jon repeated his earlier question.

Trip simply pushed the bottle over, and Archer poured himself a drink. For a long minute, there was silence between them. Finally Archer's eyes strayed over to the lonely figure of Malcolm Reed.

"Is it true?" he asked casually, sipping at his drink.

"Is it true?? God, jis look at 'im, Jon. How can it not be true?" Trip slurred, slowly feeling the effects of at least half a bottle on an empty stomach.

On the other side of the mess hall, Reed was still sitting at his table, doing some work of whatever kind. Trip didn't know if the Lieutenant was aware of his presence, aware of the way he was looking at him still. Looking? More ogling, that was. And drooling. What a sorry excuse for a Starfleet officer was he anyway? Just a little rejection and he lost himself in a bottle, staring at the object of his affection like a love-struck teenager.

"Hm, I know what you mean," Archer murmured.


"I'm looking at him," his best friend explained, smiling that rogue little smile. "Quite a sight indeed. Handsome, well built…I'd say he matches the clich of the proverbial dark stranger, huh?"

"Uhm, Jon…" Trip started, something inside of him crawling out of its cave and brandishing a club with spikes on it.

"And I'm pretty sure he knows what to do with his hands."

Okay, now the thing brandishing the club had transformed into a predator, growling dangerously, possessively. "Jon, now ya wait a sec…"

"A voice that drips down your spine like honey…" Archer went on, ignoring his chief engineer.

The predator snarled and hissed possessively. "Am I talkin' to a wall here?"

"Lips that cry to be ravaged."

"Jonathan Archer!" Tucker was close to exploding. Malcolm Reed was his, damnit! So why wasn't he making that declaration out loud? Why not confront the object of his need and desire?

Because he was a damn coward.

"So, you don't mind?" the captain inquired, a smirk on his whole face.

"I don't…what?!"

"If I try my luck?"

Trip looked at the man he thought he knew for quite some time now with utter shock and disbelief. Not only was Archer talking about approaching a subordinate, he was talking about approaching another man, for crying out loud! His man.

"No way you would…" he stammered.

"Watch me."

Trip's jaw hit the floor as Archer rose and walked over to the table Malcolm was still sitting at. He wasn't able to hear the conversation, but he saw the body language of his oldest friend…and that was far from official at this moment. Malcolm Reed almost jumped when a voice interrupted his more or less fruitless attempts to concentrate on his work.


"Captain. Is there something I can do for you?" he asked politely, coming to attention while still sitting at the table.

"In fact there is." Archer bent over, a hand came resting on his shoulder. Malcolm raised his eyebrows in surprise at this. "You see, there is a problem regarding the security on this ship."

"There is?"

"Indeed. That's why I'm playing this role here, and I need you to play along."

"I…see, sir." Well, actually he didn't.

"Great. Now, you don't mind if I take a seat, do you?"

Surprisingly for Reed, Archer had uttered his request in a low whisper, almost brushing his lips over his ear.

"Please…" He pointed toward an empty chair. What was this all about, first Tucker, now Archer? Wait a minute…Tucker?

"Does this acting have anything to do with Commander Tucker?" Reed asked, voice carefully neutral.

Archer smiled and if Malcolm hadn't known it better, he would have described it as seductive. "It has indeed. See, Trip is that security risk I just mentioned."

"Commander Tucker? How could that be possible?"

"Well, Malcolm," Archer placed his hands on his forearm again, looking into his eyes intensely. Malcolm had to fight not to pull back, though he trusted Archer. Nevertheless he was feeling a little cornered by his captain, and having no clue what Archer was up to didn't exactly help.

"Currently he is sitting at the other end of this mess hall, trying to drink himself into oblivion. And from what I can tell, and you know I know this man, it will get worse. Much worse. He will become a danger—to himself."

"I—see." Malcolm frowned, still not getting the point.

"Malcolm, I was there, too, in sickbay, remember?"

"Yes, sir." Malcolm felt his heart sink. Dear Lord…

"Let me put it this way," Archer squeezed his arm and smiled broadly, "he meant it. Make something of it."

Then he nodded briefly and stood, leaving a speechless and completely stunned armory officer behind.

Trip had reached the bottom of the bottle, finally, watching his oldest friend and captain talking to the man he wanted more than anyone else, smiling at him, touching him…And something inside of him, the predator again, wanted to go between the two men, grab Malcolm and leave, have him only to himself. But the coward was still too much in control.

Jesus, what was he doing here? The alcohol was affecting him to a great extent now, and he felt ashamed to the core. Could this get any more embarrassing? Obviously it could, because he saw Archer coming his way, giving him a brief smile and a—wink? Before he just walked past him and out of the room. Whatever had been going on between those two, Trip Tucker didn't want to get further involved, oh no. Better try to get rid of that liquor, sleep its effects off and—well, tomorrow was another day.

The moment he tried to get to his feet he noticed he had made a biiiig mistake. He had underestimated the amount of alcohol an empty stomach could handle, as the vigorously spinning of the deck told him. Trip reached out to get a hold on something solid, but it wasn't anything there. Instead two strong arms were there, wrapped themselves around his body, steadying him and stopping his fall. It felt—nice. Warm. Caring. When he looked around to see who that gentle soul was, he looked into two very worried, piercing eyes.

"Mal?" he slurred. "That you?"

"Indeed, commander," Reed answered matter-of-factly, still holding him.

"It appears you are intoxicated, commander. Let's get you to your quarters, before you become a public danger."

"Quarters sound good, Mal."


Trip didn't know how Malcolm actually managed to get him into his quarters relatively unharmed, but he seemed to have done just that.

"Now, get your uniform off and into bed, Commander," the smaller man told him.

"I always wanned ta hear that from ya, Malcom."

"Sure, Commander. Now lay down."

"Ya shtay with me, Mal?" he begged.

"Commander, this would be quite inappropriate," the British voice reached his ears.

"Ta hell with inappropriate. I love ya, Mal. Don' leave me. Please?"

Reed sighed at the pleading voice, the blue eyes looking at him sadly.. He had no chance against this lost-puppy-look, no resistance left. What had Archer said? 'He meant it.'

"All right."

With that he slipped out of his uniform and into the bed with Trip, holding him close like he had done several times on the planet's surface when the man had cried out in pain. It had soothed him then, it did the same right now, as a soft snoring sound and the relaxed features of one Commander Charles Tucker III. told him. Malcolm closed his eyes, feeling downright exhausted. Eventually he had said it, again, the words Malcolm longed to hear from Trip, but this time he was under the influence of Bourbon. Would he ever hear them when this man was sober? Malcolm sighed, letting his thumb stroke the other man's temple, like he had done before. The words Archer had said repeated themselves in his mind as he slowly dozed off.

'He meant it. Make something of it.'

When Malcolm slowly came around he noticed three things: a warm, hard body snuggled against his, an arm wrapped over his waist and a blond head resting peacefully on his shoulder. Trip Tucker's body, arm and head.


Malcolm fought down his immediate reaction of utter shock as he realized where he was, and with whom he had spent the night. He must have fallen asleep the other night, in his superior officer's quarters…in his bed.

Good Lord.

Now what? his mind cried and he cautiously tried to disentangle himself from Trip's tight embrace without disturbing the other man. No need for further humiliation, on both sides.

A soft groan and a stirring told him that Trip was waking up. Great, he was still laying in his bed. Trip murmured something inaudible, and moved a little closer toward the vanishing warmth. Not yet conscious he let one hand wander over Malcolm's abdomen and chest, and he held his breath, trying hard to not show any reaction at the seductive sensation, the friction of skin against skin. God, this was what he had dreamed of…He grabbed the hand carefully and pushed it aside; rising and heading toward the chair he had folded his uniform on.

"Malcolm?" a sleepy voice from behind asked.


"Whatcha doin' here?" Trip inquired sleepily.

"Getting dressed," he answered, his voice level, trying to ignore the drop-dead gorgous man that was watching him with sleep-hooded eyes.


A groan interrupted whatever Trip had wanted to say. The engineer was falling back onto the pillows, groaning again as he felt the after-effects of last night's excess.

"Why've ya been here?"

"Because you asked me to stay," was the calm answer.

Trip moaned again, embarrassed. "I did, didn't I? Look, Mal, I'm really sorry 'bout that."

"About what?"

"C'mon, you know what this is. Sexual harassment?"

Trip covered his eyes with one arm, groaning. He wanted to die, here and now. Not only had he voiced his feelings for this man, no, he had spent the night with him. A sudden thought popped up in his mind. Oh no…

"Mal? I didn't…well…you know…did I?"

There was a frown on the armory officer's forehead. "What do you mean?"

"Aww, Mal. You understand what I mean."


He sighed. Damn, he wasn't making this any easier. "Did I…touch you?"


Trip let out an explosive breath. Be thankful for little things. He heard the zipper on Malcolm's uniform and waited for the sound of the door, indicating that Reed was leaving, but the sound didn't come. He felt the mattress dip as Malcolm sat down on the edge of the bed instead. Great, now what?

Trip glanced at the other man, unsure of what to expect. Malcolm had his elbows resting on his thighs and looked at him with an unreadable expression on his clear-cut face, but there was clearly something on his mind.

"Trip, there is something I would like to know."

"Ye-es?" he answered carefully.

"It's about something Archer said. He said you meant it. Is that true?" the other man inquired.

"I meant what?" Tucker asked, confused.

"What you said to me, on the planet, in sickbay. Do you?" Reed demanded.

Trip inhaled deeply and wished for a reeeal deep hole to crawl into. He was laying in his bed, half naked, and the man who had been with him the whole night, the man he loved, was sitting at his side, and interrogating him, for crying out loud! Oh, what the hell.

"Yes. It is true," he said, his voice very stable.

"Say it."

Trip blinked in surprise. He had to admit he hadn't known what to expect, but certainly not a reaction like this.

"You want me to say it?" he echoed.


"Why? I mean…uh…"

"I assume you are sober now?" Reed's voice was one of polite distance.

Ouch. Triple ouch. All right, he had said it, but he had always been under the influence of something. No wonder Malcolm was demanding answers the way he was. So it was now, for him to spill out his heart, and wait what Reed would do with it. He pulled together what little courage was left in him for this matter, and looked straight into those grey eyes.

"I love you, Malcolm Reed."

Reed didn't so much as blink. "Do you act on it?" he only asked.


"At night. Do you act on it?" the armoy officer clarified.

"You want to know if I…?" Oh gawd, this was beyond embarrassing by now!

"Yes. Do you?"

"Hell, Malcolm…"

"Do. You?" The British voice had a clipped, strict tone to it.

"Yes. Yes, I do!" Trip almost hissed. God…what else would this man find to punish him?

"Is it any good?"

"Now wait a sec…"

"I think I have a right to know, when my superior officer has wet fantasies about me, if they are any good. So?" Gray eyes bore into his.

"No. No, it's not any good. Is there something else I can help you with, Lieutenant?" he snapped.

"Why not?"

He wasn't going to let this go, Trip realized. Well, why not play it to the end. He was in up to his eyebrows already.

"God…because, Malcolm, you aren't here with me. Because it is my own hands I feel. And because I want to get sick every time afterwards of sheer disgust, thinking' in such a way of a friend! You're satisfied now?"

Malcolm stared at him for what appeared to be an eternity, before he wordlessly rose and left. Trip looked after the departing figure of his former friend and curled up into his blankets, feeling viciously sick all of a sudden.

Trip Tucker stumbled into his quarters and breathed in relief. How he had managed to go through this day without causing any heavier damage he had no idea, feeling a pair of scrutinizing grey eyes on him every time he looked up, meeting Archer's questioning look every time he turned around. He had run into Phlox once, and the doctor had started what he called small talk, but had looked at him curiously. He'd better get used to it, for from now on this was what his days would look like, Trip thought wryly. A living hell. He slipped out of his uniform when he heard the chirm of the doorbell.

"Come," Trip called without thinking.

The door closed itself after his visitor, and as Trip turned around to see who it was he found himself being pinned against the wall by a strong hand on his chest.

"Malcolm?" he stammered.

"Trip." One word. His name. Oh so distanced.

Great. Malcolm Reed had come to see him, and he was in his underwear again. There seemed to be a pattern there…Trip cleared his throat, getting more and more insecure at the look of those piercing eyes, as Malcolm watched him intently, eyes raking over his body, while his hand had never left his chest.

"Mal…what is it…Malcolm?"

"You really meant it?" Reed asked. No, demanded.

Oh shoot. Not that again…"Yes, I did. Still do. Why?"

"Show me."

Trip swallowed. What had the other man in mind? "Mal, I…what?"

Malcolm pointed toward the bed with a short nod of his head. "Let me see. Strip."

"You want me to…?"


This was unmistakable. Malcolm wanted to look at him, wanted to see his face, wanted to watch while he was…Trip swallowed hard again at the very thought, but stopped thinking at all when he looked into Malcolm's eyes. His heart had begun to hammer in his chest, and he felt his blood rush down south, just looking into those eyes. Malcolm didn't do anything, just watched him, waiting. With a sharp intake of breath Trip slipped out of his shirt and sat down on his bed.

"Yer gonna stand there all the time?" he croaked as he laid back.

Malcolm gave him a faint smile and shook his head briefly. "You'll see," he answered hoarsely.

God, what was he doing here? Trip wondered as he closed his eyes under the burning glance, letting his hands wander down his own body, making quick work of his underpants. He was laying on the bed, naked, vulnerable—and damn hot.

"Mal…" he whispered as he wrapped his hands around himself, starting the well-known ritual.

He concentrated on the feelings that his hands awoke in him, concentrated on the images this was arousing and tried to forget that the man these fantasies were about was standing just an arm's length away this time. His hips twitched involuntarily at his own touch, and a soft moan escaped his lips. The blood was rushing in his ears, heart hammering in his chest, and he had started to breathe heavily.

Suddenly his hand was removed, a knee pushed between his thighs, parting the legs. A hard, warm and naked body pressed against his, and his lips were claimed in a fiery kiss. Trip didn't think, just reacted, as he responded to the kiss in kind, hips arching into the touch of a talented hand that closed itself around his hardness, finishing what he had started. Trip's moans were swallowed by more kisses, and he reached up, pulling the other man even closer as he shivered and screamed out his release.

Trip panted in the aftermath and slowly opened his eyes, realizing what he had done, what Malcolm had done. He felt the other man close, his face buried into the hollow of his neck and panting himself, drawing in shuddering breaths, one hand still resting on his hip. Trip realized that Malcolm had just come himself.

"Mal?" he whispered.



"Because," Malcolm slowly got up, resting his weight on his elbows,"it wasn't any good for me either."

"You mean you…you, too?"

"Yes, me, too. I fantasized about you as well, Trip. So many times before I just wanted to grab you, shove you against the next best wall and kiss you senseless. Not to mention…" he winked, "what we just did. And more."

"God…" Trip raked one hand through his hair.

"That's one way to put it." Malcolm bent his head and placed a soft kiss on his lips. "Oh, and for the records, I love you, too, Charles Tucker III."


His arms came up sneaking around his lover's waist, pulling Malcolm close again, to repeat the kiss. Lover, he thought. Whoa. God, it felt so good, to finally hold him, be held, caressed and kissed.

Malcolm responded to kiss, returning it, until he panted again.

"Trip?" he whispered.

"Hm?" Tucker replied, sleepily.

"What now?"

"Whatcha mean?"

"Where do we go from here?"

Damn good question, Lieutenant, Trip thought. But right now nothing he really wanted to think about any further.

"Wherever our hearts will take us, Malcolm."

"Good enough for me."

He felt Malcolm pull up the blanket and tuck it around them.

Tomorrow was another day.

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