Title: Visitors from Home

Author: Lara Bee and Macx

Email: and macx@nexgo.de

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

Date: 06/19/02

Category: Slash

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Series Title: Relived

Sequel to: Clear As Mud

Malcolm Reed inserted the message disk into the machine without thinking. Hoshi had dropped it off a few hours ago, but he had been too busy to immediately go over the dozens of letters and updates from home. Well, more updates. He barely received any private mail. There was the occasional letter from his aunts, a virtual postcard from one of his former colleagues aboard the 'Ranora', one of the last ships he had served on prior to Enterprise, and Maddy's always very entertaining collection of small tales. He liked getting letters from his sister. They had been in spartan contact before, but in the last three years they had heard more and more of each other.

Like each time, Malcolm went through the updates and downloaded them onto his PADD for later perusal. There was nothing from Maddy, which was a shame, but another personal letter drew his attention.

When he heard the first words he realized whom it was from.

Then what was said.

And then the terror set in.

Malcolm stared at the machine in utter disbelief. They wouldn't…they couldn't do that to him! He had been looking forward to the shore leave, the brief stay at the space station. Now that happiness was suddenly tinged with dread. Thank goodness he would have Trip at his side this time.

Realization hit.


Sweet Jesus, no…


He stared at the food in front of him, poking at the noodles without enthusiasm. It wasn't that any of the lunch special looked unappetizing. Chef's whole pasta and salad buffet was mouth-watering. He just wasn't hungry. The last batch of communiqués from Earth had wiped his appetite and there was little anyone could say to coax him into eating. Currently, no one was trying anyway. Trip Tucker, his lover of nearly three years now, sat across from Reed and was describing what they could do on SX-02 in great and loving detail.

"They have an incredible garden," Tucker sighed dreamily. "I was there only once in my life, but, man, you have to see it! And the restaurants! I think we can spend a week there and we wouldn't have seen them all! Night life's famous! You could say it's our little piece of Risa." A grin flew over the boyish features, but Malcolm only managed a weak smile in return.

Try as he might, he wasn't able to get into the spirit of things.

As Trip went on about the second-closest space station to Earth, Reed just stared at his food again. By now, the salad and the pasta had become a mess. It looked rather like a road accident.

Trip's voice tapered off as he looked at his rather absent-minded lover, then his eyes fell on the mess that was Malcolm's food. He grimaced.

"Darlin', I dunno what yer tryin' ta do, but it looks terrible," he drawled, consciously using the hated term of endearment.

Reed just poked his fork into the pasta and twisted it around some noodles with cheese. There wasn't even a twitch. Last time, the term 'darling' had gotten Trip at least a strange look. This time, nothing.

"Somethin' on your mind, hon?"

There was a blink of eyelids that looked a bit out of the ordinary, but still nothing.


Okay, it was his strongest weapon. Malcolm absolutely despised 'baby'. Reed's head came up and he looked a bit confused.

"I'm sorry, Trip, I wasn't listening…"

Yeah, you were completely spaced there, Tucker thought wryly. Last time I called you baby, I had you backin' me against the armory's wall, arm against my throat, threatenin' to kill me.

"I was thinkin' about spendin' the night on the station," he repeated. "They have those real nice little getaways. Special rates for Starfleet's finest, too."


Trip almost rolled his eyes as he discovered that he had lost his lover again. The pasta was by now geriatric food, complete with side dish, and if Malcolm would pour in his soda, he could slurp it!

"Okay, that's it," he muttered. "Malcolm…sweetheart…?" he asked, voice dipping deeper, wrapping around the endearment. "You aren't listening to a word I'm saying, pookums, right?"

Reed's eyes narrowed and there was a flash of the old fire in those lovely grays. "What?" he blurted. "Did you just call me what I think you did?!"

Trip shot him an innocent look. "I was talkin' 'bout the apartment complex, but I seem to have lost you again, hon…"

"Yes, of course I am! The outpost. You were describing the finer details of entertainment we can expect," Malcolm answered smoothly, completely ignoring the 'hon'. Damn if the man wasn't completely off right now!

That about did it, Trip decided.

"I was also suggestin' that we get naked and dance on the table," the engineer added, "and you said yes."


Tucker smiled sweetly. "Or are you goin' back on your word, Mal?" Caught, Malcolm stared at his lover. "I did no such thing!"

But the conversation had gone past him completely and he had made noises of agreement. Part of him had buzzed with alarm when Trip had used the endearments he hated so much, but he hadn't found it in him to rouse enough to react. The 'sweetheart' and following weird 'pookums' had done it for him, but even then his reaction had been moderate at best. Any other time he would have probably killed his lover.

Trip grinned, then became serious. "What's wrong, Malcolm?"


"Nothin' my ass. You've been pokin' at that hapless pasta the last half hour! Somethin's botherin' you. Spill it."

Reed placed the fork down. "It's nothing," he repeated and started to rise. "If you'll excuse me now, I still have some wo…"

He didn't get any further. Tucker suddenly grabbed his arm and yanked him away from the table, pulling him out of the mess hall.


"Shut up, lieutenant!"

And then he was pushed into an empty room, the door swooshing shut after them. Trip stared at him, hard, unyielding, and Reed sighed softly.

"What's wrong with you, Mal?" the blond demanded. "You've been mopin' around ever since…well, ever since we got some messages from home. Wanna tell me what got you so down?"

"Actually, no."

"Well, bad luck!" He crossed his arms in front of his chest.

Malcolm sighed deeply. He knew his lover deserved to know, but he was uncomfortable with it himself, so how was he to tell Trip? Finally he took a deep breath.

"My parents wrote."

"Yes?" Trip raised an eyebrow. He was quite familiar with the Reed family, how little Malcolm actually heard from his parents.

"They are on SX-02."

Silence. "Your parents flew to the station?" Trip echoed.

Reed nodded slowly. "Yes. I received the message this morning."

"Well, okay."

His eyes widened. "That's all you have to say?"

"Yeah. Mal, what's wrong?"

Malcolm inhaled deeply. "We're talking about my parents here, Trip! The parents who never approved of my choice of career. The parents who didn't know I had become the armory officer aboard Enterprise until the captain called them. The parents I haven't been in contact with since."

Realization dawned on the engineer's features.

"The parents who don't know about you," Malcolm added the last blow.

"Ouch," Tucker said slowly.

"Yes, ouch. I had plans of spending the little time we have on this station with you. Now everything has just been blown out the window!" Reed briefly closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "I'm sorry."

Strong arms suddenly wrapped around him and he leaned into the freely offered support.

"Yeah, so am I, Mal."

Trip embraced him tightly and pressed a little kiss on his head.

"But we'll be there for two days. I doubt you'll be hangin' with your folks the whole time. We can still have some fun."

Malcolm smiled weakly. "Sure."

But he didn't sound convinced.

Because he wasn't.


It couldn't have been worse, Malcolm thought. He had never liked spending time alone with his parents. His father would find faults and make derogatory remarks about his job, his choice of career, and Starfleet, while his mother would simply sit by and say nothing. Now and then she would rein in his father, he would shoot sour looks at them both, and finally an oppressive silence would fall.

This time had been no different.

His parents had claimed to have traveled all the way to SX-02 to see their only son, but Malcolm thought they had done it so his father could verbally assault him in person, let him know what a disappointment he was to him. Whatever the reason, he wished they had stayed home and out of contact. It would have been better for both parties involved.

Stuart Reed had left nothing good at Starfleet, had praised the Royal Navy, had again and again remarked on how much better his son would have fared had he stayed with it, and Malcolm had simply bit down on his comments and suffered through it. Thoughts of Trip had kept him sane. He wished his sister would have come along; it would have been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary family meeting. But Maddy was still on Earth.

He was emotionally drained as he walked aimlessly through the station's maze-like corridors. He finally arrived in one of the many entertainment plazas. Part of his brain informed him that this was where he and Trip had said they would meet tonight, find a small bar and get some drinks. Well, it was a lot earlier than their date time, but something inside of Malcolm prayed that his lover was already here. He had called him, but only the message service had answered. The plaza had been made up to look like a small Italian village, complete with the stone houses, the vines, a fake well, and cobble stones. People were milling around, drinking, eating, listening to the live entertainment not far from here on a stone terrace.


Reed turned and found himself face to face with Trip, who looked surprised and worried in one.

"I got your message," Tucker went on. "How'd it go?"

Malcolm closed his eyes. "I need a stiff drink," he murmured.

Trip chuckled. "That can be arranged."

When Malcolm didn't continue and kept on staring straight ahead, the blond wrapped an arm around his lover and pulled him into his embrace. Without a second thought, Reed wrapped his arms around the taller man, burying his head against one strong shoulder.

"That bad?" Trip asked softly.

"You have no idea," the armory officer whispered into the dark blue shirt.

Tucker rubbed his back, ignoring everything that went on around them. Malcolm sighed deeply.

"They gone?" the blond asked.

"They are leaving tomorrow morning," was the muffled reply.

"Seein' them again?"

"I'm not sure." Trip wanted to say something, but suddenly the small body in his arms stiffened. He heard a sharp intake of breath. Twisting around, he found himself looking at an older woman in a rather simple dress, her face lined with age, the graying dark hair pulled back into a tight knot. While she looked timid in appearance, dark eyes were watching the two men sharply.

"Mother," Malcolm whispered as he stepped out of the intimate embrace, but Trip's hand curled around one arm and kept him from moving away completely. Mother? That was Malcolm's mom?

"Hello Mrs. Reed," Trip said pleasantly, giving the woman a bright smile.

No sense playing. He'd just be himself.

"Malcolm. Aren't you going to introduce me?" Mrs. Reed asked pleasantly.

There was no denying her British heritage, Trip thought, still smiling.

"Ah, yes. I…ah…this is…"

Trip stuck out a hand, the other still on Malcolm's arm. He was convinced his lover would bolt if he let him go. "Charles Tucker III," he introduced himself. "My friends call me Trip."

Mrs. Reed took the hand and shook it, all the time running an eye over him as if sizing him up. "Mr. Tucker," she acknowledged him. "Or is there an appropriate rank I should address you with?"

"Nope. I'm off duty here."

The tension in Malcolm was rising steadily. By now he was almost standing to attention and Trip was drawn between amusement and worry.

"What are you doing here, mother?" he asked, voice clipped.

Trip sighed softly. Malcolm looked and sounded like he was facing a firing squad.

Mrs. Reed ignored her son and still kept her eyes on Trip. "You are a friend of my son?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"A close friend, I see." She let her eyes flick to the hand that was holding the armory officer.

"You could say that."

"You work with my son?"


"And you are?"

"I'm the chief engineer, Ma'am," Trip answered.

Malcolm's face was a mask, his eyes staring straight ahead.

"How close?" Mrs. Reed asked.

"Mother…" Malcolm managed.

She looked at Trip, eyes never wavering. "Mr. Tucker?"


His lover had by now lost all color and there were fine tremors running through his body, tremors that could be felt through the physical contact.

"Mother, please!"

"Malcolm, it is a valid question. I want to know what Mr. Tucker's intentions are."

"Intentions?" the armory officer breathed.

Mrs. Reed gave him a motherly smile. "Do you think I'm so blind?" She looked at Trip. "How long have you and my son been together?"

Before Malcolm could utter more than a sharp gasp, Trip answered. "Two years, nine months, thirteen days." He grinned at the older woman.

"I see. And your intentions?"

"Utterly honorable, Mrs. Reed," the blond assured her.


"You also intend to continue this…relationship?"

Tucker nodded.

"For how long?"

He smiled. "If it's up to me…for the rest of our lives."

Mrs. Reed looked at her son, who was staring at her with the expression of a deer caught in the headlights. "Why didn't you tell us, Malcolm?"

"Tell you?" he blurted.

"You always wrote about your girls."


Trip wrapped an arm around his lover's waist and felt him go stiff as a rod. He hugged him briefly, wishing he would relax. It wasn't like they were doing something hideously forbidden.

"However brief the liaison was," Mrs. Reed added, the smile still present. She looked at Trip again. "Two years?"

"Nine months an' thirteen days," he added proudly.

"It is the longest relationship you ever had with a person, Malcolm."

The dark-haired man inhaled deeply.

"As it seems, you are what my son has been looking for, Mr. Tucker."

Malcolm started in surprise and Trip smiled, hugging him again.

"I hope so, 'cause he's what I've been lookin' for, too, Ma'am."

"Trip…" Malcolm groaned through tightly locked jaws.

Mrs. Reed walked up to her son and Trip met the dark eyes levely. "I wish you two all the best."

"Mother?" the other man almost squeaked.

"Malcolm, I am your mother. I know more about my children than they are comfortable with, especially my son. You were in various relationships ever since your teenage years. No girl held your interest for a very long time. After you broke up with your last steady girl-friend, right before the Academy, I suspected something like this. It is nothing to be ashamed of, son. I am happy you have found a partner who loves you, and who you love."

"I…you.. accept it?" Malcolm sounded stunned.

"Of course. Did you think of me as so narrow-minded?"

"I…ah…We never actually talked about it at home."

"No, we didn't, did we?" Mrs. Reed looked sadly at her son. "I know your father always made derogatory remarks about same-sex relationships in regard with the military, but not because he didn't accept them, Malcolm. While your grandfather might not have approved of homosexuals in the service, your father was a different generation, as are you now." She fell silent for a moment, then met her son's eyes. "When your father was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander, he expected to be transferred to Malaysia. You know how he loves the country. It is why we moved there after he accepted early retirement. Well, he wasn't transferred. Another man got the post. The man in question was homosexual. In your father's eyes, he was also not the right person for the administrative work, but none of his complaints were really registered. When one of his own subordinates, another homosexual, was given a promotion over the seaman your father had picked, it began."

Malcolm's eyes widened more and more with every word.

"Had those men been women, your father would have despised women instead," Mary Reed went on. "He was never against it, but he didn't like them because he felt they were given better positions. That it wasn't true was of no consequence to him back then."

"And now?" Trip wanted to know. She looked at him, face carefully neutral. "It is a sore spot, but it isn't a subject for hatred."

Malcolm inhaled deeply and Trip felt the faint tremors still running through his lover's slender frame.

"Your father was hurt when you decided to leave the Navy and enter the Academy," she went on. "He had pictured you as the captain of your own ship one day, and he didn't understand how one could be drawn to the stars."

The man in his arms said nothing, just stared at the floor, and Trip tried to rein in his urge to plant a reassuring kiss on the bowed head. "Do you want me to tell you father, Malcolm?" his mother asked, startling her son.

Malcolm jerked, his head briefly coming up to stare at her. Tucker understood the problem. The last time they had tackled this topic, his lover had more or less told him that if he ever revealed this relationship to his parents, especially his father, he'd probably end up being disavowed. And if he told his father, he would do it to hurt the old man, using Trip's love as a weapon.

"It's your decision," Malcolm finally said softly.

Mrs. Reed nodded. "Very well. Now, can I invite you boys for a coffee or a drink? I would really like to get to know the man my son chose better."

"Coffee sounds like a plan," Trip declared, giving his lover a last hug, then releasing him.

As they walked toward one of the many restaurant-cafes, he leaned down to whisper into Reed's ear. "I really like your mom, Mal. Now I know where you got the deviousness from."

A real smile lit up the no longer so pinched face. "I didn't inherit all the bad family traits."

Tucker frowned. "No idea what'cha talkin' about, Mal. So far I've only discovered good things. Your laugh, your lips, you sense of humor, you smile, your mind…your ass," he whispered, his voice low.

Malcolm shot an alarmed look toward his mother, who had stopped in front of the restaurant-cafe and was waiting for them. Trip shot her a brilliant smile.

"Trip!" he growled.

"Hey, just makin' a list of the good stuff…which is suitable to be mentioned in public. I won't go into the real intimate details."

Before Malcolm could say anything in return, they were within hearing range of his mother and sat down at one of the outside tables.

The rest of the day belonged mostly to Trip and Mrs. Reed. Malcolm had always known his mother as just a shadow of his father, always at his side, a housewife who supported her Royal Navy husband and raised the children. He apparently hadn't seen the changes in her in the last years. Then again, the last time they had actually talked to each other was just before he had announced he would enter Starfleet. Shortly before all hell had broken loose in the Reed home.

He found he liked the new side of his mother. While still very proper and strict, there was something there that told him he was invited to call home and talk to her any time. When they parted ways, she hugged him briefly.

"Take care, Malcolm," she said with a smile.

"I will, mother."

Trip was hugged as well and Malcolm shot him a surprised look. Yes, his mother had changed.

"You, too, Mr. Tucker."

And then she was gone.


The door closed behind them and Malcolm found himself enveloped in the strong arms of his lover, lips trailing along his neck to his mouth were they possessed it in a sweet, gentle kiss. He opened up under the gentle pressure, losing himself in the intimate gesture, his own arms wrapped tightly around the other man. They explored each other's mouths, their tongues dueling lazily. When they finally separated, Trip rested his forehead against Reed's.

"How are you?" he asked softly.

"Surprised. Amazed. Confused." Malcolm shrugged slightly. "Befuddled. Bemused. Somehow I think I'm stuck in the wrong dimension. Who was that person and what did she do with my mother?"

Trip laughed out loud, blue eyes sparkling. "I take it she isn't who you remembered she was?"

"Not the least. The Mary Reed I remember is the timid housewife of Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Stuart Reed. A woman who never stepped out of his shadow, always followed my father wherever he went in his career, and who raised me and my sister." Malcolm leaned against the taller form of his lover. "The woman we met today…is different."

"Well, y'know what they say. The moment the husband's home for good, the command gets turned over to the woman of the house," Trip joked. "Your dad's no longer a Lieutenant-Commander, she's no longer the proper little wife. I think the roles changed."

Malcolm snorted. "I wouldn't have been able to tell from the show my father gave me today. To him, I'm the worst disappointment he ever had."

Trip kissed one temple and nuzzled his way down to the ear. "Well, to me you are the center of my universe, Mal. I love you."

Malcolm raised his head to meet the questing lips and they lost themselves in the taste, feel and smell of each other again. Breathing hard, Tucker stepped back and took one hand of his lover.

"How about you'll try to unwind in the luxury of one amazin' jacuzzi?" he asked seductively.

"This room has a jacuzzi?"

"And some more extras. Told ya, it'll be fun."

Malcolm followed the gentle tug into the Roman-style bathroom. Amazed, he let his eyes roam over the large corner tub, complete with whirlpool. Hands slipped under his shirt and over his naked skin. Trip teethed one ear from behind and he leaned against the other man, breath quickening as the engineer started to play with his navel, only to slide one quick hand down his front.


"You in?" Tucker whispered.

"In. Definitely in."

The hand down his front squeezed him gently, then played with the zipper. "Then I'll fill up the tub and you can start lookin' through the bath oils."

Malcolm turned and captured the sinful lips in a hard kiss. "Thank you," he whispered.

"Haven't done anythin' yet, lover."

"You have, Trip. You really have." Another kiss, then Reed drew away, seductively opening some of the shirt buttons.

Trip grinned. "Hey, don't'cha start without me!"

"Then you better hurry up with the tub."

Trip didn't need another suggestion.

Malcolm leaned against the stone tiles and smiled to himself. He was looking forward to the rest of his stay aboard Outpost Alpha. Very much. There had been surprises; a lot of them. He might never see eye to eye with his father, but he had discovered a very surprising side to his mother. Well, so all of it hadn't been bad.

"You dreamin'?" Trip's voice drew him out of his thoughts.


"Hopefully only good things." Tucker started to undo his shirt buttons, caressing the skin revealed with each button.

"Very good things," Malcolm breathed and moaned when Trip began to suckle his way down the path his fingers had laid.

"Then let's do some fantastic things," Trip murmured.

"I'm in."

"Good. You're the special guest at this party." The blond looked up again and smiled. "The very important special guest."

Malcolm shoved all thoughts about his family aside and simple fell into the safe warmth of his lover, losing himself in the touches, letting himself get undressed.

When they both sank into the hot water, the world faded away and only they existed.

Malcolm had chosen a herbal scented bath oil. They slipped into the water, entangled in one another, enjoying every sensation, every touch, relaxing against each other. Trip leaned against the wall of the tub and pulled Malcolm close, letting him rest against his chest. His hands were gliding over the slick skin, teasing the nipples into hardness, making Malcolm moan and writhe a little. His lover turned his head and met his lips in a hard, needy kiss. He took one of Trip's hands and slowly pushed it down south, closing it around his hard member. Trip didn't need a second invitation; he had promised Mal he would be the special guest at this party. And no one ever blamed Trip Tucker of being a bad host. Trip smiled and started to move, slowly and seductively, taking his time. He wanted this to last, wanted to please Malcolm, wanted it to be good for his lover. He was rewarded with a twitching of the hips against his own reacting manhood and a deep moan. Trip smiled again and sunk a little deeper into the water, taking Malcolm with him in the process, while he spread his legs a little farther. Malcolm moaned again when Trip nuzzled his neck and shivered with the tantalizing rhythm of his fingers and hand.

"Trip…what about you…"

"I'm real fine here. Want this to be good for you."

"Then…," Malcolm hissed, hips arching, when Trip used a special caress. "Tease!…Trip, bed…want you."



Trip chuckled at the short exclamation, so Malcolm-unlike. But who was he to refuse such an invitation? Besides, the bed looked warm and soft, and it was big. He climbed out of the tub, reaching for a big soft towel to wrap around Malcolm's body, rubbing here and there. Maloclm groaned, and the next thing Trip Tucker knew he was unceremoniously pushed onto the bed with his hands over his head, fingers entwined with Malcolm's, his lover straddling his hips and kissing him literally senseless.

"Mal…" he moaned as those talented lips made their way down his body, leaving a fiery trail behind.

"Want you, Trip," Malcolm whispered, voice deep and hoarse with desire, "want to feel you…"


Trip pulled Malcolm up to claim his lover's lip's again, reaching for some lube that was placed on the bedside table. Malcolm gave a sharp gasp when Trip spread his legs, slipping one finger carefully inside him, stroking over that particular spot that always turned his lover into a whimpering bundle of need. This time was no different, as Malcolm proved the very next second, hips arching, giving a deep groan.

"Trip…stop fooling around and…"

No second invitation needed, Trip settled between Malcolm's thighs, slowly entering his lover. The smaller man didn't have a mind for slow and gentle as his passionate kiss and even more passionate moves told Trip, and he gave in, letting his lover call the shots. He felt Malcolm's fingers dig into his back as he called out his name, shuddering with the overwhelming climax. It was all Trip needed himself, and he joined Malcolm, burying his face at his lover's neck, as he himself cried out his completion. ***

Trip lounged in one of the chairs that stood on the balcony overlooking the plaza below. He had a coffee in one hand, enjoying the faint buzz of the people on the plaza. It was early mid-day and he had just crawled out of bed, taken a shower, and ordered breakfast. Well, late breakfast or early lunch. Whatever. Malcolm had been out of bed by the time he had woken and had just finished his coffee when Trip had emerged under the shower. His lover had told him he wanted to drop by one of the shops he had seen down in the plaza and would be back in a flash.

Tucker knew what shop it was. Antiques and weapons. He himself had checked it out earlier yesterday and told him. He still had to grin when he thought about the gray eyes lighting up, the smile tugging at the thin lips. Malcolm and weapons. He chuckled.

The sound of the door chime startled Trip. Who knew they were here? If it was someone from Enterprise, they would have used the communicator.

The moment he opened the door to his visitor he was even more surprised.

"Mrs. Reed? Somethin' wrong?"

He hadn't expected to see Malcolm's mother again in such a short time, especially since she and her husband had planned on leaving this morning. That she had appeared worried him faintly.

"No, don't worry…Trip. I just wanted to bring Malcolm something and take the opportunity to…talk a little."

"Sorry, Mal's not here at the moment. Would you like to wait for him? While havin' a coffee, maybe?" Trip stepped aside in a wordless invitation, which was taken.

"I prefer tea in the morning, if you have one."

"No problem. This room has a replication unit."

She nodded and looked around the spacious room. "Thank you."

Trip ordered tea and watched Malcolm's mother out of the corner of his eye. Mary Reed was inspecting the apartment, taking in every little detail like…well, like a mother. Tucker placed the hot tea on the small table on the balcony and sat down, sipping at his coffee.

"What do you wanna give Malcolm?" he asked curiously.

She smiled and reached into her bag, pulling out a little disc. "I had a talk with Malcolm's father the other night. This is the result. Trip," she added as his features went blank, "I don't know how much you know about Malcolm's father, or his childhood. As far as I know my son, he didn't tell you much." "You could say that, ma'am," the engineer answered carefully.

"I imagined so. Trip, the thing with Malcolm's father is, most of the time he wasn't there. Malcolm's birthday, or on Christmas. The time he had to spend with his family was limited, and he regretted that dearly. My husband had been raised to become a Royal Navy Officer like his father, and he would have liked Malcolm to, well, continue this path, and go even further, have his own ship one day."

"That's what parents do, Mrs. Reed. Always want the best for their children. Malcolm can have his own ship one day, only it'll be in Star Fleet." Trip kept his voice carefully neutral, reining in his emotions. This wasn't the time, he reminded himself.

"I know that. My husbands loves his son, though he has a, well, unlucky way to show it. " She shrugged a little. "Malcolm followed his heart when he joined Starfleet, and he most certainly did when he found you. Yesterday I saw that my son has changed, for the better. And I think it is partly because of you. I want him to stay that way."

Trip smiled at her and nodded, indicating that he had understood the message, completely. Mary Reed smiled back and finished her tea.

"Very well. Unfortunately I have to leave now; the shuttle won't wait. Trip," she gave him one last intense look, "I haven't seen my son as relaxed as he was with you in a long time. Must be your good influence. I guess you noticed it already, there is something about the Reed men and expressing feelings, any feelings. If one chooses to live with them, one has to be more persistant then they are, or will lose. Malcolm might not recall me as a very outspoken or strict person when it came to my husband, but believe me, I was never submissive. I take it you can be persistent, Trip?"

This time the grin was wide and open. "Very, Mrs. Reed."

"Good to hear." She patted his cheek in a very motherly manner. "Take good care of my son. And of yourself, you hear me? Oh, and here's our number. I'm getting too old to travel through half the galaxy to see my son, so please tell him I expect him to write at least every three months."

With that she disappeared.

Trip looked at the small piece of paper with the call code written on it. He knew that with this simple gesture, Mary Reed had shown him that she accepted Tucker as her son's lover and partner. She trusted him, she wanted him to take care of Malcolm, and Trip knew he wouldn't disappoint the woman.


Malcolm returned barely fifteen minutes after his mother had left the apartment. There wasn't a shopping bag in sight, so Trip supposed that his lover hadn't sent anything in that shop.

"No purchase?" he asked nevertheless.

Reed grimaced. "The prices were far above market value and while there was an interesting piece or two, I won't spend my money on it."

Trip smiled. Malcolm noticed the little silver disc that was still laying on the table.

"What's that?"

"Oh, from your mother," the blond answered casually.

Reed's eyes widened. "Mother was here?"

"Uhm-hm. We—had tea."

"Tea," came the level echo.

"Yep. Talked a little," Trip added.

The armory officer did a double take. "You. Talked. With my mother."

"Yep. Interesting, that."


"What?" he asked innocently.

"What did you talk about?!" Malcolm demanded.

"What do you think? You, of course." Trip almost laughed out loud at the expression of disbelief and panic on his lover's face.

"You talked with my mother about me?"


"Trip!" Malcolm hissed.

"What? Mal, calm down. She dropped by, brought that disc, had a cup o' tea. An'…expressed a bit of her motherly feelin's for you."


"She threatened to tar an' feather me should I ever intentionally bring harm on her boy," Tucker explained amiably, still smiling.

"My mother did no such a thing!" his lover protested, looking like he was flailing for support.

"Right, she didn't. Not exactly mentioned tar and feathers anyway…"


"Mal, why don't you look at her message? Bet that explains a lot."

Malcolm gazed at the silver disc and bit his lower lip. "I'm afraid so," he murmured.

He took it gingerly, as if he expected it to be a bomb. Trip almost rolled his eyes at that. Malcolm pushed the disc into the disc reader's slot.

When Trip heard the first words, and saw Malcolm's whole body stiffen, he realized whom it was from.

Lieutenant Commander Stuart Reed.

Trip slipped into the chair behind his lover and wrapped an arm around Malcolm's slim waist, offering. Malcolm leaned back into his embrace and listened, face pale. The image of his father looked back at him from the screen. Trip had never seen the elder Reed and he had to confess that there was little resemblence between Malcolm and his father.

"Malcolm. Your mother and I had a long discussion the other night. I don't think I have to go into details," a faint smile parted the man's lips, "you will have an idea. Well, to make a long story short, she told me about your…relationship with…Mr. Tucker.

Malcolm, I can't say I'm entirely delighted about your…choice of partner. Nor your choice of career. Yes, I know, we had that already, and I won't start it again. You know what I think about Starfleet. Unfortunately I didn't know what you think about it.

Well, as I said, I don't want to start all over again. Your mother also told me you are…happy with…Mr. Tucker. She seems to think he is good for you. She also declared—in her own unique way—I should finally close my mouth and open my eyes. Not to mention bury my old preconceptions now that I'm no longer in the service.

Malcolm, I know I wasn't the father you probably would have wished for. I did what I thought was the best for you. Alas I forgot to look for what you thought was the best for you. That I am sorry for, because it almost cost me my only son. It needed three years and a…Mr. Tucker, to realize that.

You know, Reeds have a mind, head and heart of their own. As your mother stated, you followed your heart. Next time I…really would like to get to know your Mr. Tucker."

This time the smile was a little broader.

"Malcolm, I always wanted you to make a career, some day have your own ship maybe. Well, if you like this ship to sail a much larger ocean…I never told you this, I realize that now. Malcolm, you are my only son. I am proud of you. And don't let your mother wait another three years for the next message!"

With that the disc stopped. The message had ended.

Trip had listened to the words, had watched his lover listen to the words of his father, becoming more and more pale. When he heard his father was proud of him, Trip saw Malcolm's eyes widen in a mixture of shock, surprise…and something unreadable, and he understood.

Most certainly Malcolm had waited over thirty years to hear those words. To finally get the acceptance from his father for what he was doing. Stuart Reed still didn't like Starfleet, and he never would. But—thanks to the comprehensive persistence of one Mrs. Mary Reed, Trip mused—he finally saw the other side of the medal, had realized it was his son's life they were having arguments about, and that those discussions just wasted that time. If it really had been discussions, Trip smiled faintly. Knowing his lover as he did, Malcolm propably had just swallowed and nodded. He tightened his embrace.

"Mal? You okay?" he asked softly.

"I don't know," was the equally soft answer.


"That…that was my father," Malcolm murmured.


"Telling me…and he wants to get to know you…" The voice was filled with disbelief and confusion.

"Apparently. So?"

"Which dimension am I in? Who kidnapped my parents and took their places? I…I don't…that is…" Malcolm flailed for words, sounding as if he was at the end of his wisdom.

"Impossible?" Trip supplied helpfully.


"It isn't. When was the last time you saw your parents?" the engineer asked patiently.

"Before I came aboard. Three years ago," was the immediate answer.

"See? And when was the last time you actually talked to them?"

Malcolm just stared at him in bewildered silence.

"Exactly!" Trip proclaimed. "Even longer. Look, I tell you one thing I discovered earlier today. It's one of the best hidden secrets of the universe: people can change."

Malcolm blinked, obviously still trying to wrap his mind around the different imformation his brain was receiving.

"Three years is a long time. They've changed. Hell, you've changed, right?" Trip probed.

Malcolm nodded at him.

"So, if your father has finally come to his senses, stop bein' paranoid. Take the gift. Be happy, Mal."

Malcolm continued to stare at him, blue-gray eyes dark. "Trip? When was the last time I told you I love you?"

"Hm, let me think…"

"When you have to think about it, I say it way to rarely. I love you, Trip Tucker."

And he pulled Trip's head close into a long sweet kiss.

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