Title: Delayed Reaction

Author: Macx

Email: macx@nexgo.de

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

Date: 06/26/02

Category: Slash

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Series Title: Relived

Sequel to: Terms of Endearment

Spoilers: Detained

Malcolm Reed patiently sat on the biobed, trying not to let the itching skin get the better of him. He was stripped down to the waist and Dr. Phlox was currently cautiously removing the fake Suliban skin from his own. Getting it applied had been a long process, but getting it off seemed to take twice the time. Phlox had argued that simply tearing it off might end up irritating Malcolm's own skin even more.

When Trip entered the sickbay, smiling widely at his lover, his arms and chest had already been freed of the obnoxious disguise, and Malcom gave him a weary smile in return.

"Hey, you're halfway human again!" Trip called.

"Yes. The sooner the better."

Phlox carefully started to pull the facial mask away and Malcolm breathed a deep sigh of relief when his face was suddenly his own again. His hair was plastered to his skull, every inch of skin itched, but at least he felt the air on his skin again. Recycled air, but air nevertheless.

"That feels a lot better," he murmured.

"What the heck…?" Trip exclaimed and Malcolm turned to look at his lover.

"What?" Trip wore an expression of anger and worry. He reached out to Malcolm's face, but he didn't touch.

"Who hit you?" he wanted to know, the anger in his eyes growing.

Phlox eyed the bruise now clearly visible, running from Malcom's temple to his cheek. "Are you in any pain, Lieutenant?"

Malcolm shrugged slightly. "The itch was worse, so I didn't really think of it."

"Were you knocked out?"

"Briefly. Doctor, I'm fine."

Phlox gave him a critical look. "By now, Lieutenant Reed, I know how to take your declamations concerning your health. Please let me reach my own diagnosis. I'll examine this bruise after the rest of the Suliban skin has been removed.

Reed nearly rolled his eyes. He had been out for a minute or two. Maximum. He really hadn't thought of the bruise afterwards. Okay, so he felt a bit sore, but it was manageable.

"Who did that?" Trip was staring at him, arms folded over his chest, a furious expression in his blue eyes.

"Trip, it doesn't matter. It's over."

"It does to me!"

Malcolm met the hard, demanding gaze. "The captain and Travis were injured as well," he reminded the other man. "Worse than me!"

"And I know by whom."

"And what will you do if I tell you?"

Tucker growled softly. "I know there is nothin' I can do, okay? I just wanna know, Mal!"

Phlox's unhappy tsking had the engineer stiffen and Malcolm yelped when the Denoblian poked at his back, exactly where the energy rod had hit him. Damn!

"Captain Archer showed a similar bruising, though his was fainter. Apparently he was introduced to this energy rod a bit earlier than you, Lieutenant."

Trip's eyebrows dipped and he walked around the biobed, hissing softly through his teeth as he discovered the new injury to his lover's back.

"It was like a cattle prod," Reed volunteered. "It hurt briefly, but that was that. No big deal."


"While painful and not exactly pleasant to look at," Phlox interrupted whatever Tucker wanted to say, "I agree this time. Captain Archer's injury will be fine in a few days and so will yours. Do you need something for the pain, Lieutenant?"


Trip's glare didn't faze the armory officer. He wasn't in much pain and the painkillers always made him drowsy.

"What I want and need are a shower, something to eat and a nice lie-down."

Phlox smiled. "As your physician, I won't argue." He ran a scanner over the now exposed human skin. "Everything looks fine. A minor skin irritation here or there, but that will be gone by tomorrow. If you experience any further difficulties, please let me know."

Malcolm hopped off the biobed and slipped into the Suliban shirt. He really wanted to shower and change.

"I will, doctor. Thanks."

He left sickbay, Trip in tow. They silently proceeded to the lift.

"Trip, please…" Malcolm sighed when they left the elevator again, walking to his quarters. "Will you stop it?"

Trip glared at him.

"I'm fine. Nothing's wrong with me."

"It was supposed to be a simple infiltration," Tucker growled when the door had closed after them.

"Nothing is ever simple, let alone the infiltration of an enemy camp," Malcolm explained calmly as he started to strip. "You know it, I know it, and we both knew what to expect. It could have been worse; it wasn't. The captain and Travis were off a lot worse, Trip."

Trip rubbed his forehead. "Yeah. But neither of them is you, Mal. Neither of them is my partner." His voice was softer now.

Reed, still in his boxers, walked over to him, smiling. "I know you worry, but when we're on duty, we are just that: on duty. You know my job description like anyone else."

Trip wrapped his arms around his lover, careful of the bruised back. "Yeah. It's just…ah hell!" He buried his head on Malcolm's shoulder.

"It was my place to be down there and blow the hell out of the joint. I actually enjoyed it." He chuckled. "It's not often that I get to blow something up in person."

Trip echoed the chuckle. "As long as you had fun…"

"Immensely. How about you let me get a shower, then we'll see about something to eat?" Reed asked softly.

"You really wanna shower alone?" Trip drawled, smiling.

Malcolm brushed his lips over his. "Don't tempt me, Trip. But I want to get clean…have something to eat…and after that, I'd love to have some company. In my quarters. Just us."

Tucker smiled. "How about food here?" he offered.

"Sounds lovely."

"I'll get us somethin'. You go an' shower."

The blue eyes raked over the bruise again and Trip let his finger tips ghost over it. Malcolm caught the hand and squeezed it briefly.

"Go and pester chef," he murmured.

The engineer kissed his nose, then he left again.

Malcolm looked at the closed door, then chuckled briefly. Trip was a literal mother-hen at times. It warmed him, it made him feel special, and he appreciated the concern. He was guilty of the same when it came to his blond lover. Seeing the other hurt was never easy on the nerves.

The shower took ten minutes, longer than usual, but Reed enjoyed the warm water, the way his muscles eased, even though his back started to throb a little. He took his time toweling off. When he finally left the bathroom, he was surprised to discover that Trip had already returned. The man had to have moved at warp speed!

"Did you use the transporter?" he teased.

"Somethin' like it. Din't wanna leave ya alone too much; just in case Ah'm needed," came the strongly-accente answer. "Hope yer into sandwiches, Mal. And pie. Wasn't much else, aside from soup or salad."

"Sandwiches are perfect."

Throwing on an old sweater and pants, Malcolm settled down on the bed. Trip joined him, the tray between them. When they were done, he removed the tray, automatically settling against his lover, who readily accommodated him. One arm slipped around him and Tucker hugged him closer.

"Now I feel human again," the armory officer murmured, tilting his face up, only to meet a pair of questing lips.

Malcolm let his fingers play over the flat stomach of his lover, then slipped them under the shirt. Trip's abdominal muscles twitched as he stroked over the warm skin. Reed rolled half onto the taller man, briefly breaking the kiss, only to reinitiate it with more fervor. His hand was still busy under the shirt while Trip held him in position. One of his hands ghosted over Reed's back. They kissed with abandon, exploring and tasting each other, hands massaging, stroking, petting, touching. Trip groaned as his rising hardness brushed against one strong thigh.

"Mal…" he mumbled against the sinful lips. "Gawd…wait…you…"

"I'm fine," the smaller man breathed. "Just want to feel you close to me…"

He tugged at the shirt and Trip didn't have the fight in him to deny his lover this. Malcolm, now sitting on his thighs, divested of his own shirt and Tucker splayed his hands on the flat stomach. He ran them up to the chest, playing over the rising nipples, and started to tease the hardening nubs with his fingertips. Malcolm shuddered and caught the wandering hands by the wrists. He kissed each, nibbling at the sensitive inside, then leaned forward to catch the tempting lips. His own arousal pressed against Trip's and the engineer groaned into the kiss. Reed started to lay a trail down south, his lips leaving wet marks all over his lover's neck, chest and stomach, while agile fingers had already opened the pants.


"I'm sure, Trip," his lover murmured soothingly. "I'm quite fine. And I wasn't going to suggest anything…strenuous anyway…"

A sly smile crossed the handsome features.

Trip's thoughts muddled and then fled him as Malcolm continued what he had started. All he could do was feel and react, and it was the most wonderful feeling at that.

*** The morning after.

Malcolm woke slowly, feeling a bit groggy, a faint headache drumming behind his eyes. Blinking his eyes open, he tried to focus on something and found that it was his lover. Trip was currently in the same state of semi-awareness, moving slightly. The headache rose a fraction and Malcolm squeezed his eyes shut.

Damn, what now?

They hadn't drunk anything last night. At least nothing that could count as alcohol, and even if he partook in a drink or two, it was never enough to leave him with a hangover.

Except for that one time on the shuttlepod, he thought faintly.

The mattress moved as Trip shifted his weight.

"Mornin'," the Southern drawl reached his ears.

But the sounds were drowned in the sudden nausea rising from the movement.

"Oh no!" Malcolm breathed and bolted out of bed, stumbling blindly toward the bathroom door, a hand in front of his mouth.

Trip felt warm and content when he woke. He knew where he was, whom he was with, and he clearly remembered last night, which had been very, very nice. Malcolm was still next to him, looking like he was in the process of waking himself. Shifting up onto his elbow, Trip leaned over to look at his lover.

"Mornin'," he greeted the man.

Malcolm blinked and suddenly there was a horrified expression on his slightly paler-than-normal features. He bolted out of the bed, racing toward the bathroom with a faint 'Oh no'.

Tucker stared at him for a moment, then followed. "Mal?" he called.

There was a retching sound from behind the bathroom door and Trip cursed. Something flushed. He opened the door and found the armory officer kneeling in front of the toilet, his head weakly resting against the cool bathroom tiles. A soft groan escaped his lips, then the heaves began again and he was just fast enough to aim for the toilet.

Trip took two washclothes and wet them thoroughly. When his lover had finished, he knelt down next to the exhausted, slightly shaking man, and placed one onto his neck. The other he used to wipe Reed's face.

"Mal?" he whispered.

Another groan. "Trip?"

Tucker gently wiped some stray hair out of the by now very sickly face. "Yes, love."

"Nauseous," the dark-haired man murmured. "Sick…"

"Want me to call Phlox?"


"Then we'll go to sickbay."


Trip shook his head. "No argument, Malcolm. You're sick."

"'S nothing. Maybe just a concussion…" The heaves began again, but this time, it was dry heaves. Nothing more to come out. Trip flushed the toilet again and looked at the trembling man, now leaning heavily against the wall. Malcolm was breathing hard, there was sweat on his too pale skin, and he looked like he was about to faint.

He reached a decision.


"Delayed reaction to a concussion." Phlox looked at the scanner in his hand. "It shouldn't come as a surprise, considering that you received a hit to the head with a rifle."

Malcolm's eyes were still closed, but after the hypospray Phlox had administered, the lines in his face had eased out and he no longer looked so nauseous. Trip hovered at his side, worried.

"I believe I told you to…take it easy?" Phlox asked.

"We did, doctor," Malcolm answered before Trip could, voice faint. His eyes cracked open a fraction. "Nothing strenuous."

"I see. Well, the human body is known for being able to suffer damage and show the stress symptoms a lot later than expected. The injection I gave you should help with the motion sickness, and the concussion will abate in a day or two." Phlox put the scanner aside. "But for now, you will stay here, Lieutenant, and rest."

"I'm not arguing," Malcolm murmured.

"That's a first," Trip muttered.

Malcolm tried to glare, but it wasn't even a point five.

Phlox gave the two men a brief smile and walked over to his test area, busying himself with something or other. Trip looked down at the half-asleep man.

"I'm sorry, Mal."

The gray eyes clouded over with confusion. "For what?"

"We should have waited. Maybe it was too much and that's why you got so sick."

"I told you I was fine. I felt fine. Everything was okay," Reed sighed. "Even if we had just cuddeled, I might have thrown up this morning." He smothered a yawn. "You heard the doctor. Delayed reaction."

"Yeah, I know, I know. But…"

"I hate that word," the downed man grumbled. "I hate your 'buts'." He groped blindly for Trip's hand and the engineer caught the flailing limb. Malcolm squeezed it weakly. "I'm not dying here, Trip. It's just a concussion and it probably would have surprised me this morning whether we had made out in bed or not. Now stop wallowing in guilt."


"Trip! You weren't the one who hit me!"

"Who was it then?"

Malcolm sighed. "You won't let it go, hm?"

"No," came the decisive answer.

Another sigh. "Damn stubborn Yank!" he muttered.


"It was Grat. Satisfied?"

Trip's face clouded with anger. "Bastard!"

"Trip, it's over. You can't get back at him and even if there was a chance, I wouldn't let you. It was an undercover mission and there's always a risk. Always!"

Tucker sighed and smiled slightly. "Okay. No guilt trip."


"Mah word on it!"

The narrow-eyed look had Trip smile more. His lover might be down, but he wasn't really out yet. "Okay…"

Trip leaned down and kissed Malcolm's forehead, drawing a grumble out of him.

"My lips are fine, Mr. Tucker."

The next kiss hit the nose.


"Shut up," the blond whispered and placed a soft kiss onto the thin lips. "And sleep. I'll drop by later."

"Looking forward to it."

"And then we have a talk about that mornin' sickness of yours," Trip added, the old smile back.

"Morning…?" Malcolm's eyes widened again, then he glared at his chuckling lover. "Get out, Tucker!"

"Yes, sir."

But he didn't really move until Malcolm's eyes slid shut. Trip waited a bit longer, still holding the now lax hand, then he placed it onto the bed. He quietly left sickbay, nodding at Phlox who dimmed the light over Reed's biobed some more. Malcolm would be okay.

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