Title: Winning the Lottery

Author: Kylie Lee

E-mail: KylieLee1000@hotmail.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/kylielee1000/

Date: 08/09/02

Length: ~9,000 words

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Type: Slash M/M

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Tucker and Reed, tied up in a basement during shore leave, play a version of Twenty Questions.

Feedback: Yes, please.

Archive: Yes, at EntSTSlash, Tim Ruben, Archers_Enterprise, Allslash, Situation Room, and WWOMB; anyone else, ask first.

Disclaimer: Original material copyright 2002 Kylie Lee. Material taken from the episode is copyrighted by Paramount. This is not an attempt to infringe on Paramount's copyright. No money changed hands. Etc.

Spoilers: "Two Days and Two Nights."

Series: Acceptable Risk.

Series order: This is a stand-alone story in canon with the following stories (in order): "Acceptable Risk," "Cold," "Montage," "Holding Back" (parts 1 and 2), "One Voice," "Desire," and "Heat." It closes out the canon.

Comments: This closes out the so-called Acceptable Risk canon. I tried to write a kind of slashy backstory for Season 1 to explain the dynamics I saw on the screen. (And let me tell you—it was hard to explain the A/R dynamic in "Shockwave," but I think the little A/R experience in "Heat" nicely fits the bill. Heh.) Thanks to The Grrrl, Kim, and Sarah for beta-y fun. The Grrrl assures me that the sex is hot. (I can never tell.)

*** 1

"I heard T'Pol didn't even put her name in."

"That doesn't surprise me. Vulcans don't think having fun is logical."

"Well, she seems to think it's logical for us."

"Humans—so weak. So in need of some R&R."

"I admit it. I'm weak. I require R&R."

"Did you hear about the nightclubs on Risa?"

"Oh, yes. Can't wait."

"You're that confident you're going to get lucky?"

"Lucky in what sense?"


Attention focused on the hastily created dais in the cargo bay, one of the only rooms big enough to house the crew members interested in shore leave on Risa. Today was the lottery to see who got to go. Of the eighty-odd members of the Enterprise, a little less than half wanted shore leave, and of that number, fifteen would be chosen. A small contingent was going down for duty-related reasons—to take scans and so forth, but this contingent was small, only six people. But from the point of view of everyone packed into the cargo bay, it meant six fewer people who needed to enter the lottery, increasing everybody's chances.

Subcommander T'Pol stood next to an odd machine that the chief engineer, Trip Tucker, had constructed. It had a handle on one side and a large, clear bubble made of some kind of plastic in the middle. Inside were folded pieces of paper. Everyone had written his or her name down, folded it, and stood in line to file past and slip the paper into the plastic bubble, all under T'Pol's somehow disapproving eye. Captain Jonathan Archer had chosen well: with T'Pol running the show, everyone knew the lottery would be unreproachably fair.

"Your attention," T'Pol demanded, and everyone quieted. She shut the hatch and gave the handle a few brisk spins. The plastic bubble rotated and paper fluttered. The quiet murmuring died down and everyone came to attention as she opened the hatch again and reached in a hand, ruffling through them. For a Vulcan, she certainly had a flair for the dramatic. She seized a piece of paper, pulled it out, opened it, turned it right-side up, and looked out at the assembled crew. The silence stretched. "Ensign Baker," she said at last.

There was a general sigh. Baker whooped.

"Commander Tucker. Crewman Levy. Ensign Sato."

It went on like that. After every four names, T'Pol would spin again, until all fifteen names had been called. Included among the chosen, besides Trip Tucker and Hoshi Sato, were Captain Archer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, and Ensign Travis Mayweather. Although they were all friends, quick discussion revealed little interest in hanging out together.

"Don't you think we need a break from each other?" Mayweather asked.

"That's the point of shore leave," said Reed agreeably. "But it's the club scene for me."

"Trip, didn't you want to check out the nightclubs too?" Sato asked. Tucker had been wearing his loud shirt off duty for days in anticipation, despite the mockery of his friends for both his absurd dress sense and his confidence that he would win the lottery.

"I want to play it close to the vest, Hoshi," Tucker said righteously. "Like you and Travis. We'll all share our plans on the shuttle down, how's that?"


"Malcolm, come here." Tucker drew Reed off into a corner, giving his friends the evil eye so they wouldn't follow. "Okay, Malcolm, what's your goal for shore leave?"

"What do you think?" Reed asked.

"To get laid."

"You are correct."

"Fine. So we have the same goal."

"What exactly is your point?" Reed's voice betrayed impatience. "Or hadn't you gotten there yet?"

Tucker sighed. "Look, Malcolm, things didn't work out between us."

"Or between you and the captain," Reed added.

"Or between *you* and the captain," Tucker shot back.

Reed blushed.

Tucker lowered his voice. "Oh, you didn't know I knew about that, did you?"

"Apparently the captain keeps little from you."

"Very little."

"Old friends; ex-lovers; it must be getting quite confusing for you." Reed's eyes were mocking.

"Oh, shut up. Look, I've accessed the Vulcan database. I know of a happenin'-type place, hotel upstairs, two-level nightclub downstairs, where you are practically guaranteed to hook up with somebody—male, female, alien, kind of human—a great cross section."

"I've decided to stick with female," Reed said.

"Me too. Want to join me? Safety in numbers and all that."

Reed hesitated.

"Come on, it'll be fun. We can also see if we can still be friends."

"So picking up girls together means we're friends?"

Tucker shrugged. It wasn't quite that simple, but it would do. He wasn't sure he could explain his motivations to himself. "Yes," he said.

"Well, all right. But we have separate rooms."


"No group sex."

Now it was Tucker's turn to blush. "Okay, I can live with that. I'll make the reservations today." As Reed turned aside to rejoin their friends, he added, "Malcolm, you're kind of a difficult guy, but basically, I like you. We'll have fun."

Reed looked at him over one shoulder for a long moment, then nodded. Tucker exhaled in relief. Reed had taken the olive branch.

Tucker was doing his best to remain friends with Reed. But it was hard. He wasn't over Reed yet. Not by a long shot.

*** 2

Tucker clapped the pilot, Michael Rostov, on the shoulder as he filed past to enter the shuttle that would take them down to the surface. "Michael, haven't seen you lately," he said. "How's Denise?"

"Great, thanks. You?"

"Still single," Tucker said, finding a seat.

Rostov nodded. He got the message. He had been mind-linked with Tucker and Archer, along with several other crew members, and knew quite a lot of personal information about them as a result. The bond between the five had proved unshakable so far. Things between Tucker, Archer, and then Reed, who was not part of the five, had gotten crazy, but resolved: they were all free agents again.

Rostov and Tucker continued chatting as Mayweather, Sato, Reed, and finally Archer boarded. As Rostov turned his attention to the controls, the friends shared their plans for the surface. Tucker was surprised to hear that Mayweather was going rock-climbing. He hadn't thought the Boomer would enjoy such a land-based sport.

When Archer asked Reed what he was going to do, Reed answered, "Well, supposedly, Risa's very cosmopolitan. There are species visiting from all over."

Tucker put in, "Malcolm and I plan to, uh, broaden our cultural horizons."

Sato was amused. "Is that all you two think about?"

What was that supposed to mean? Tucker responded, "Well, how we choose to relax is our business."

Sato noted that she was going to practice her language skills—without the universal translator, on which she had apparently grown overreliant.

Tucker shook his head. "You only have two days, Hoshi," he said. "If you want to spend your time *talking* to people—" He trailed off and chuckled.

They were down on Risa within twenty minutes, and Rostov landed in a clearing and shooed them out before heading back up for his next load. A ten-minute walk allowed them to catch public transportation to downtown. They parted in the city's central square. Sato headed off on foot to her small, family-owned hotel; Archer caught a taxi to the villa he had rented; Mayweather went to find the storefront of the company that was sponsoring his climbing tour; and Tucker and Reed made their way to the huge convention complex.

Tucker had made reservations in the largest of what could only be termed pleasure palaces. Because they planned on staying in the complex most of the time, Tucker had set up the finances so everything was billed to their rooms, and the quartermaster on Enterprise would pay the bill when they were done. That meant they didn't have to carry money, although they both had a little cash for taxis and the like. They dropped off their stuff in their respective rooms, which were on different floors at Tucker's request, and met for lunch in one of the restaurants in the complex.

"How's your room?" Tucker asked after they had ordered.

"Beautiful. Yours?"

"Also beautiful."

"What time do things get started here?"

"About 10 p.m. But it doesn't let up all night. I really need to blow off some steam."

"I know just how you feel. Oh, thanks." The server had brought them their drinks, a kind of nonalcoholic iced tea. When the server had turned aside, Reed commented, "Our waitress is lovely."

"I was just noticing that."

Reed took a tentative sip of tea. "Mmm. This is nice." He drank again. "I feel a little odd out here with you," he confessed.

"What with our history and all?"


"Malcolm, we have to work together. We pretty much have to be friends. Can you handle that?"

"Of course." Reed's face was unreadable.

"Good. Of course, this was my fantasy," Tucker remembered.

"What was?"

Tucker waxed nostalgic. "On a pleasure planet with you, nobody caring if we were sleeping together, free to be open. Just like Risa." He took a sip of tea before he got morbid. "Only now there's nothing between us and we're back to women," he finished lightly.

"I imagine there will be fruit drinks with little umbrellas," Reed pointed out, alluding to the same conversation Tucker had referenced a second ago; in sick bay once, he and Tucker had had a conversation about not needing to sneak around that had devolved into fantasies about tropical planets.

Tucker laughed. "True. My solace will be fruit drinks with little umbrellas." He held up his glass of tea. "And women, of course. To getting laid on Risa."

"I'll drink to that." Reed clicked Tucker's glass with his own. "Two days and two nights. It's not much time."

"We'll just have to make every second count. Stick with me, kid. We'll go places."

Reed laughed. "Not if you're going to wear that shirt."

"What's wrong with that shirt? It's my lucky shirt."

"It's unspeakably hideous."

"And that unspeakably hideous shirt has never failed me." He leaned forward slightly. "It catches their attention, and then boom! I've got 'em."

"I can't wait to see it in action."

"Bask in my reflected glory, Malcolm."

Reed laughed again, and Tucker relaxed. It was going to be okay.

*** 3

The music was loud, the clientele exotic, and he could just tell that the drinks were strong. And the girls? There were a lot of them, and the ones that weren't beautiful were interesting. Tucker was in heaven. He was wearing his lucky shirt, a Hawaiian number, along with a tan jacket and matching trousers. Reed, predictably dull, was wearing a light blue shirt, a darker blue jacket, and brown trousers. Tucker couldn't quite put his finger on Reed's attitude. Reed wasn't himself—he was edgier, more irritating and aggressive. It must be Reed in search mode. Tucker found himself falling in with Reed, matching Reed's tenor, becoming more aggressively heterosexual. He had never seen Reed in this light before. He also rarely saw Reed in civvies. The least Reed could have done was chosen a color different from the Starfleet uniforms. Although, he admitted to himself, Reed looked good in blue. It suited his eyes.

He tapped Reed on the shoulder. "What about that one?" he asked, pointing out one particularly exotic specimen of womanly beauty.

Reed's cheeks puffed out in a laugh. "Now I know you've been cooped up on a starship for too long."

"Why, what's wrong with her?"

"Well, nothing, I suppose. I just wouldn't know which eyes to look into." Reed's eyes roamed the room. "Hey, hey, hey, hey," he said, patting Tucker to draw his attention. "Now, *she's* interesting."

Tucker scoped her out. "I don't think 'she' is the right pronoun."

Reed took another look, brow furrowed.

"But if you think it's worth the risk—" Tucker went on. He was enjoying this. He caught the eye of Reed's "interesting" girl, who appeared to be a well-coifed cross-dressing man in an outrageous outfit apparently held up with little more than hope and prayer, and waggled his fingers at him/her. He smiled and pointed at Reed. The transvestite's eyes shifted, took in Reed, and smiled slowly. It was a predatory smile, in part because his/her teeth appeared to have been sharpened. Tucker laughed and touched his lips with his thumb. He shouldn't get Reed into trouble. This one would eat Reed alive. Maybe literally.

Reed, apparently oblivious to Tucker's little exchange, was saying, "Maybe I should have brought my scanner with me." A moment later, a server whisked by, handing them drinks with fruit in them. Of course there were drinks with fruit in them. Maybe he could sell them the idea of little umbrellas and make a fortune. Tucker stifled a laugh as he paid for them with a fingerprint. Reed tossed his head back, sighed in appreciation at their server, and gave her what could only be described as a leer.

"Now, *that's* a she," Tucker said, looking over Reed's head after her, admiring her rear end.

Reed made a noise of agreement. "What should we drink to?" he asked Tucker.

What else? "To us…and to a well-earned two days and two nights." They clinked their glasses and drank. Tucker sighed with happiness. Yes, he had been right. The drinks were strong.

He was on his fourth strong drink when Dee'Ahn and Latia joined them. They were exotically beautiful women, and Tucker had a little trouble telling them apart, in part because his eyes didn't want to focus properly. Dee'Ahn was the one with the mark on her forehead, and she chose Reed. He was happy with Latia, however. Latia was hot. Quite hot indeed. He found himself spinning wilder and wilder tales, even implying—well, stating—that he captained the ship, encouraged by Latia's laughter and the gentle pressure of her leg against his. Reed fell into Tucker's tale-spinning, backing him up, his aggressive edge only increasing as drink and the attention of an appreciative woman who laughed at his quips took their toll.

When the women mentioned a subterranean garden with luminescent plants, it suddenly seemed like a very good idea to go visit it. Tucker's thought was that they could segue from the gardens to bed, and Reed seemed to agree. Stumbling slightly, they followed the women through the club's floor, down a level, and then went through an unremarkable door near the exit. Rickety stairs led down, and Tucker had gone all the way down before his pickled brain realized something was wrong. Clearly, they weren't being led to any garden. They were being led to what was apparently the facility's basement. When the fabulous women turned into ugly male aliens and demanded their valuables, Tucker's nightmare was complete.

It wasn't so much being rolled. It was really more that Tucker was hideously aware that there was no way he was going to get laid tonight. He was determined to get over Reed, and this was the method, admittedly masochistic, he had chosen. Then the men who had been the incredible Dee'Ahn and Latia only moments before shot him with some kind of stun ray. The last thing he saw before unconsciousness took him was Reed.

Well, at least he wasn't alone. But Reed was going to kill him.

*** 4

Tucker came to with his face in the floor. He was a little chilly. It took him a moment to realize that he was only wearing his bright blue Starfleet underwear: a sleeveless top and briefs. He yelped, then moaned slightly, then started to get up, only to realize that he couldn't. He had been trussed up. Damn. He took a look around. They were in some kind of storage room. Wine bottles were in racks along the walls. Reed was propped up against a pillar supporting the ceiling. He too had been stripped to his underwear.

"Morning," Reed said. Tucker detected irony.

Movement made Tucker realize that he was incredibly hung over. His mouth felt like cotton, and his head pounded. "I don't know if it was those Risan mai tais or getting shot, but my head's killing me," he said.

"It was probably both," Malcolm said. "The sun's up. We've been down here all night."

Tucker struggled to a sitting position and joined Reed by the pillar. "Great. Our shore leave's half over." He gathered himself together, then yelled. "Hey! We need some help down here! Hello!"

"I already tried," Reed said. "The club's closed."

"I don't plan on spending our entire trip tied up in a basement," Tucker said. He was testy.

"The Vulcan database didn't mention anything about crime," said Reed.

"Well, they said it was very rare," Tucker admitted. He hadn't mentioned crime to Reed because otherwise Reed would have gone into security officer mode and he would have been no fun at all. In retrospect, Reed on guard would have been a good idea.

"What?" Reed said, looking over his shoulder at Tucker.

"It had some warnings, but I didn't think it would be a problem."

"Wonderful." Reed laughed sarcastically.

"You think this is my fault!" Tucker was furious.

"You were willing to follow two strange aliens into a basement," Reed pointed out.

"Gorgeous aliens. Don't forget—they were *gorgeous.*"

"They were male!"

"Not at first! I don't remember twisting your arm."

Reed cut to the chase. "If we don't make it to the landing zone on time, they're going to start scanning for our biosigns. Do you want the captain to find us like this?" He gave a grunt and struggled against the rope futilely.

Tucker couldn't think of anything to say to that. Things indeed looked grim. Tied up in a basement, running out of shore leave time, and he hadn't gotten laid. And here he was, stuck with an ex-lover he wasn't quite over—and even worse, an ex-lover who was incredibly pissed at him.

"Well, somebody's got to come down here to get some of this wine or whatever it is," Tucker said at last. "Someone will be along. We'll just sit tight."

They sat tight for literally hours. They took turns yelling once they heard movement upstairs, but nobody seemed to hear them. Tucker grew hungry, and he had to relieve himself. Finally he rolled over into a corner and did so without making too huge a mess, and Reed did the same, each politely averting his eyes. Reed refused to talk to Tucker, and they both managed to doze, despite being tied up. Their effort to untie each other, lying back to back, hands next to hands, was futile. The rubbery texture of the bindings and the lack of range of motion in their fingers made the rope impossible to loosen. Finally, when the music started up and Tucker realized it must be the end of the second day and the start of the second night, he knew it was the time for action. Sitting tight had done no good at all. "Okay, Malcolm, this is it," he said finally. "Nobody's coming and we have to get out of here. What's your plan?"

"Why do I have to have a plan?"

"Because you're a planner. You're the tac officer. You plan. You strategize."

"I see." Reed thought for a second. "My plan is to turn it over to you."



"Okay, my plan is, we break one of these bottles and cut ourselves free, then head upstairs."

"I like that plan," Reed said. "It's a decent plan. I'd go so far as to say that it's a good plan. A plan I can really throw my support behind."

"Thank you. So glad you approve."

"In fact, it's much better than anything I could have come up with."

"Your plans always involve weapons."

"True. If, for example, I'd known that crime was a problem on Risa, I would have carried a phase pistol."

"They don't allow them."

"Really? I wonder what we got shot with, then?"

Tucker sighed. "Look, I said I was sorry."

"Say it again."

Tucker yelled, "I'm sorry, damn it!" He paused, breathing hard. "Are you happy now?" "Very happy. Can you fetch a bottle, then, please, Commander Tucker?"

"Sure." Tucker rolled over to the nearest rack and managed to rise to his knees. He surveyed the bottles. "I can't read the labels. They're in some weird language."

"Why do you want to read the labels?"

"Do you want me to break a bottle of dry wine, or an after-dinner liqueur? Or maybe something in a scotch?"

"Trip," Reed said warningly.

"All right." Tucker turned sideways and used his bound hands to pick up a bottle at random. His fingers felt weird. "Oh, this one feels really heavy. The glass may not break."

"Choose another."

"Okay." Tucker dropped it and it rolled away. He selected another bottle, a long, thin one that proved to be oddly light. "This one is made of some kind of bendy plastic." He dropped it to the ground and it bounced happily. "Yes, definitely plastic." Another. "This one is better."

"Break it."


"Hurl it to the ground?"

Tucker hurled. The bottle bounced but didn't break.

"No," Reed said, his voice patient. "Stand up, then hurl."

"I can't stand up, or I would have bunny-hopped up those steps and opened the door at the top of it," Tucker pointed out.

"Damn it. That was my backup plan."

"Oh, so you had a plan?"

"Your plan is better. Hurl again."

By dint of much hurling, Tucker finally managed to shatter the glass. It broke apart, releasing an intense and unpleasant stench. The liquid inside wasn't so much liquid as sludgy. But the broken shards had sharp edges. Tucker had been afraid that it was some kind of safety glass that broke into harmless pebbles, but luckily, that was not the case. The two men lay back to back. Tucker held a large shard in his fingers and Reed carefully worked his bonds against the edge. Without the use of their hands, cutting themselves on the glass would be a very bad idea, so Reed took it slow. It took forever.

"Got it," Reed finally said, and rolled away.

Tucker dropped the shard in relief and nudged it aside. His hands were cramped and cold. He propped himself up against the pillar and watched as Reed manhandled the rope off his wrists. Reed shook his hands and rubbed them to restore the circulation, then grabbed the shard off the floor and hacked at the bonds around his ankles. "Oh, god, this feels so much better," Reed said, his hands awkward as he unwound the rope. "Except I got some of that stinky stuff on me. Excuse me for just a moment." He disappeared into a corner Tucker couldn't see, and Tucker heard the sounds of urinating.

"What about me?" Tucker yelled.

"Do you have to relieve yourself?"

"No, I'm fine," Tucker said. "But if you could hurry up and untie me, that would be great. I'll bet we could clean up and have dinner and dancing, and maybe some sex, if you would please get us out of here."

Reed hove back into range. "What makes you think I'm going to untie you?"

Tucker sputtered. "It was the plan. Wasn't it the plan?"

"It's not *my* plan."

"God damn it, Malcolm, untie me."


"I said I was sorry. I'm really sorry. I take full responsibility. Please untie me."



Reed did a few jumping jacks, presumably to get the circulation going. He grinned. Tucker's heart sank. "I think I feel like torturing you."

"Now is not the time for revenge, Malcolm."

"Oh, but it is." Reed squatted down next to Tucker. "I'm in the mood for a game of Twenty Questions."

Oh god. Sadistic parlor games. Tucker sighed. "Twenty Questions. Okay. Then you untie me, right?"

Reed's smile sharpened. "Maybe," he said. And before a surprised Tucker could pull his thoughts together, he leaned down and kissed Tucker hard.

*** 5

"All right, cut it out!" Tucker yelled when Reed released him. "None of that now!"

"But I want to kiss you," Reed said archly, and he did it again.

Tucker took a deep breath when Reed released him. His heart had begun racing. He had managed to resign himself to the fact that Reed had dumped him, but even Tucker's subsequent, short-lived liaison with Archer hadn't been enough to eradicate Reed from his mind. This shore leave thing had been his way of getting over Reed. If he and his ex- lover could pick up girls together, then somehow it meant he was definitely straight and they were over. Now he was just confused. So he said, "Malcolm, I'm confused."

"Good. Let's play. I won't need twenty. Let's call it Ten Questions. Question one." Reed loomed over Tucker, threatening. "No lying. Why did you sleep with the captain?"

That was an easy one. "Because he wanted me," Tucker said promptly.

"Two. Are you in love with the captain?"

"No. And yes. But mostly no."

"Three. Do you want the captain right now?"

"Only to get me out of this mess. Not to fuck. If that's what you're asking."

"That's what I'm asking."

"Okay, then, no."

"Four. Was Dee'Ahn sexier than Latia?"

Tucker considered. "I'd have to say yes to that one."

"I thought so too." Reed smirked. Dee'Ahn had selected Reed. Apparently the fact that she was a fake construct, a disguise, meant nothing. "Five. How did you feel when you found out about me and the captain?"

Tucker thought for a second. Archer had told him while he was drugged up in sick bay, right before Archer had said he wouldn't be Tucker's lover any more. He knew nothing about what had happened between Reed and Archer except that they had apparently slept together. How had he felt? "I felt betrayed."

"Six. Who betrayed you?"

"I don't know. The captain, I guess, because we were supposedly in a relationship. But you too. You both betrayed me." "Seven. How does it feel to have the shoe on the other foot?"

Tucker's impatience exploded. "Damn it, Malcolm, are you telling me you fucked the captain for revenge? To somehow get back at me?"

Reed pushed his face up close to Tucker's. His eyes glittered gun- metal gray. "I'm asking the questions, Commander," he said softly.

Tucker backed off. "Okay, Malcolm," he said placatingly. He didn't call Reed "lieutenant" in return; it would not do to remind Reed of rank right now. "It all makes me feel sick. Just like when you dumped me in the laundry room. I felt like you socked me in the stomach, then jumped on me for good measure."

"Eight. It is eight, isn't it?"

Tucker mentally counted. "Yes, you're on eight. You've got three left, so make 'em good." He couldn't keep the bitterness out of his voice.

"Eight. Why did you ask me to accompany you on this little Raisan nightclubbing jaunt?"

"Aw, hell."

Reed looked expectant.

"I thought if we saw each other as straight, if we picked up women together, it would help me get over you."

"Nine. Did it work?"

"No. One left, Malcolm."

"Ten. Do you still want me?"

Tucker closed his eyes. He couldn't look into those gray-blue eyes. Somehow, answering would grant Reed all the power. He didn't want Reed to have that power. He opened his eyes. "No," he said, voice definite, meeting Reed's eyes. "No." The enormity of the lie was breathtaking.

Reed raised his eyebrows. "No?"


Reed knelt beside him. "I didn't expect you to say that," he admitted. He sounded faintly surprised.

"You expect me to still want you after you dump me and then sleep with someone else?"

Instead of responding, Reed pushed at Tucker's legs until they were straight out in front of him. Tucker was propped up awkwardly against the pillar supporting the ceiling, arms behind him. Reed's eyes locked with his, and he moved to straddle Tucker's body, so they were face to face. He leaned down and brushed his cheek against Tucker's, then gently kissed Tucker on the lips.

Tucker, through sheer force of will, kept his lips inert. Reed tasted the same. Reed's hands came up to Tucker's face, and he cupped the side of Tucker's head, his thumb gently stroking Tucker's jaw, then lightly under the ear, as he continued kissing Tucker. Reed's tongue gently slid into his mouth and parted his lips and teeth, and Reed gently nibbled. The man was persuasive—very persuasive. Almost against his will, Tucker opened his mouth. Their tongues brushed together softly, then more firmly, for a few long moments. Then Reed's eyes half-closed, and he pulled back, sliding his hands to Tucker's chest.

"Do you want to stop?" Reed asked.

The question was like a blow. Tucker inhaled sharply. In a split second, Tucker remembered their first kiss, viscerally relived it. Reed had just reenacted it. Tucker had brought Reed some scotch and an apology. Reed had set down his glass of scotch, straddled Tucker, and kissed him. The stroking with his thumb, the way he had half- closed his eyes and pulled back, fingers trailing down his chest, the question—it was all the same. Tucker had answered "No, do you?" and Reed had responded, "No." It had been the first time they made love, except maybe that time, it had been fucking.

"Do you want to stop?" Reed repeated.

"No," Tucker whispered. "Do you?"

Reed leaned down and captured Tucker's mouth again, his hands cupping Tucker's face. Reed licked and nibbled, mouth familiar and hot, hands stroking his jawline and around his ears, and Tucker moaned when he pulled back.

"No," Reed said. "I don't want to stop. Question ten. Do you still want me?"

There was a very, very long pause. Tucker didn't close his eyes this time. Then he handed Reed the power, because maybe Reed had always had it. "Yes," Tucker said at last. "Yes. I want you. Do you still want me?" Tucker gazed at this man, his former lover, who knew him like no one else, whom he still wanted so much that it hurt, and he didn't look away. It was all on Tucker's face, and he knew it: simple need, a need beyond desire. A longing for part of one's self. There was a word for that.

Reed half-sat back, his ass brushing Tucker's erect cock. "I used to have dreams," he said matter-of-factly. "I would dream of the five together, on the floor of your quarters, only I would be there too. In one dream, I sucked you off while Rostov and the captain kissed you, touched you, played with you. I had to share you, in my dream. And in that dream, when you came, I could taste you." Reed touched his lips lightly in remembrance, then met Tucker's eyes. "I woke up, sticky, covered in my own come, and I could still taste you. I had to vomit."

"Malcolm," Tucker said. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"I couldn't bear it when I saw you," Reed continued, as though he hadn't heard Tucker. "All I could see was the five of you, so close. You couldn't let me in. I didn't see how you could betray me like that, and then I couldn't see how you could want me when you had them, because they were a part of you in a way I could never be. I told myself it was the alien, but I didn't really believe it. So I broke it off." Reed's fingers had continued to stroke the side of Tucker's face, feathery and gentle, but now he set his hands on his own thighs. "And then you were with the captain, and there was no hope," he finished. "I couldn't be with you. I couldn't be without you." He inhaled deeply, then let it out, dropping his face down to look at his hands. "God damn you, Trip Tucker," Reed whispered. He raised his face, and Tucker was shocked at the anger he saw there. "God damn you," Reed said again, and then his hands closed around Tucker's head and Reed kissed him again, passionate and hard.

Reed's mouth demanded, and Tucker gave. Reed was in control here. Heat blazed between them, fanned by lips and tongue. Reed rose up on his knees and pressed his erection into Tucker's body, and Tucker tilted his head back further, maintaining pressure and sensation with Reed's mouth. Reed pushed aggressively into him with his mouth and his body, and Tucker responded, desperate for contact. He didn't care if Reed took him in anger. He wanted Reed. He would always want Reed.

Reed drew Tucker's tongue into his mouth and scraped it gently with his teeth, then sucked hard on it, and Tucker moaned as his cock leapt at the pressure. Then Reed removed his short-sleeved undershirt, baring his chest. He slid Tucker's undershirt up and pressed bare chest to bare chest, mouth warm against the side of Tucker's face. Then Reed sat back on Tucker's legs and bent his head to one of Tucker's nipples. His tongue swirled around the hard nub, his hands trailing down Tucker's body. Reed toyed with Tucker's chest and nipples for a long few minutes, until Tucker was gasping.

Reed stood up and removed his briefs, revealing his erect, uncircumcised cock. Reed clasped it in a hand and stroked himself slowly, up and down, while Tucker watched, fascinated at the sight of Reed's cock, of Reed's hand. Reed's eyes were unreadable. Instead of sitting back down on Tucker, he put one hand on Tucker's head and the other on the pillar Tucker was leaning against, legs straddling Tucker. He didn't have to say a word. Tucker knew what he wanted. He obediently opened his mouth and drew in Reed's erection. He shut his eyes for a moment as his lips closed around Reed's dick. The sensation, the taste—it was familiar, overwhelming. Reed put his legs further apart to make himself shorter, and Tucker was able to accept most of his length. Reed rocked his pelvis to and fro slightly, sliding his phallus in and out of Tucker's mouth, as Tucker sucked and moved his tongue along the underside of Reed's cock, pushing his tongue firmly against the hot length of flesh.

Reed groaned far back in his throat and picked up the pace. He removed the hand from Tucker's head and put it around the base of his own cock, fingers squeezing. Then he drew his glistening cock out until only the tip was in Tucker's mouth and used his hand to pull the foreskin back. He pushed into Tucker's mouth again, then pulled back out, using his hand to squeeze down, then up, his own shaft. He repeated this motion, movements a little faster, a little harder, a little more desperate each time, masturbating while fucking Tucker's mouth. Being unable to reach up and touch Reed—being unable to press his skin against Reed's—was frustrating, but somehow exciting. Reed's cock slid back out, then in again, hot and hard. Tucker's cock was hard too, and he moaned in response. Watching Reed pleasure himself, and using Tucker to do it, was tremendously exciting. Tucker couldn't move. Reed had complete control. That was tremendously exciting, too.

"Oh, god," Reed said at last. "Harder. Suck harder, Trip." His movements were strong, but he was being careful to not push in too far. "Harder. Oh, god. Yes." On his backward movement, Tucker could look up into Reed's face. Reed's eyes were unfocused, his fingers squeezing hard, weight leaning against the arm propping him up on the pillar, lost in sensation. His cock was purple and red. Reed repeated "Harder. Harder," a kind of mantra that had ceased to have meaning.

Tucker, jaw straining, increased the suction. Feeling Reed so excited, so hot, made his own erection push uncomfortably into his briefs. He needed to untwist himself, but he couldn't. Then he forgot everything as Reed began to pulse his pleasure, pushing hard into Tucker's mouth. Tucker focused on Reed's cock and Reed's pleasure. Reed's hand left his own cock and grabbed Tucker's hair, pulling Tucker's head into his groin as his hips thrust forward and backward. Tucker valiantly sucked and swallowed as Reed shuddered and came. He felt the slick hardness of Reed's cock, the warmth of Reed's seed, and permeating it all was the familiarity of the taste.

He reduced the suction as Reed's penis stopped spurting, instead tonguing it slowly and gently, dipping his head down and up. Reed, softening, pulled back reluctantly, then straddled him again, ass warm against Tucker's legs. "Kiss me," Reed whispered, and Tucker did, their tongues swirling together. "I can taste myself," Reed said softly, and leaned back down, mouth hungry, fingers twining in Tucker's hair. Reed was breathing hard.

Tucker, incredibly excited, tried to tell Reed with his mouth that more than anything, he wanted to experience what Reed had just experienced. He found himself thrusting his erection against Reed's ass. He felt profoundly relieved when Reed swung one leg around and pulled Tucker's briefs down around his ankles. He expected Reed's mouth to close around him. It would only take two or three sucking pulls, and he would come. He needed to come.

Instead, Reed moved off to the side. He bent down and picked up the plastic bottle Tucker had tossed to the floor. "Oh, good, sealed cork," Reed noted, using his discarded undershirt to wipe off the dust. "Oooh, you're right, it's bendy. This is perfect." He examined it critically, and then, apparently satisfied, he set it down next to Tucker. Next he ran through several bottles, picking them up and shaking them, holding them up to the light, looking and listening for something. He finally selected one and set it next to the wine bottle. "On your knees, Trip."

Tucker got it. "Shit, Malcolm, I don't think so."

"Sorry, Trip. I'm calling the shots today." Reed pushed him sideways, and Tucker fell heavily. "Bare arse in the air." When Tucker didn't immediately comply, Reed put a hand on Tucker's hip and scooted him around onto his knees. He pushed Tucker's upper body forward; Tucker turned his face so his right cheek was against the cold floor. Reed's desire to be in charge excited him, as did his own inability to move, to reach out and touch. He was helpless. He would accept whatever Reed did to him. Then Reed's hands were caressing Tucker's buttocks, Reed's mouth was kissing and licking him, warm against his ass. Reed's tongue tickled against his asshole, and Tucker groaned at the unexpected contact, balls tightening. He struggled against the bonds, trying again to free his arms, to no avail. He was wound tight. "It's just the handiest thing for a dildo," Reed continued. "I can't be inside you myself right now. Marvelous sucking off, by the way." Reed continued teasing him, one hand coming around to circle Tucker's cock. Tucker arched up. If Reed moved his hand up and down, he would come. He was so close. Reed apparently sensed this. "Not quite yet," he whispered, removing his hand. There was a rustling noise as Reed uncapped a bottle, then a faint glugging. Tucker smelled sharp, bitter liqueur. "Just preparing it for you," Reed went on. "No lube handy, you understand."

"Malcolm," Tucker pleaded.

There was a gentle pressure, and then a heavy pressure, and then Reed had pushed the neck of the wine bottle inside him. He felt the ridge of the cork as it went in. Despite the bottle's flexibility, it was still weirdly immobile, and the liquid inside was cool. Tucker's body rippled around it and he froze. If he moved at all, he would come. He was panting in harsh gasps. After a few long moments, the danger passed. He didn't want to come without Reed sucking him, or Reed inside him. He wanted to come with the touch of flesh on flesh.

"Ready, Trip?"

"Oh, god."

Reed lowered him gently so he was lying on one side, arms bound behind him, legs tied together, cock so hard it almost hurt. Then Reed was leaning down and taking Tucker's erection in his mouth, body weight bent over Tucker's waist. He put one hand on the base of Tucker's cock and sucked up and down once. Tucker's balls tightened and a pulse went up from somewhere deep inside. His sphincter fluttered around the neck of the wine bottle, and he said, "Oh, god, Malcolm."

"Do you want to come, Trip?"

Tucker took a shuddering breath. "Please," he said finally. "Please." He wasn't sure what he was begging for: the final descent into pleasure, or Reed back as his lover.

Reed bent his head to Tucker's cock again. His other hand must have been on the bottle, because as he sucked up and down, hand grasping the base of Tucker's cock, the bottle rotated gently. This time, Reed didn't draw back. This time, the wetness and hotness and suction went on, and the bottle in his asshole filled him as it moved, pushing up into him as it rotated.

Tucker, thrusting blindly, fell hard and fast into exquisite orgasm, jets of come forcing their way out of his cock, sucked into Reed's warm, expert mouth. Even orgasm with the five in Unity hadn't felt like this. This was desire fulfilled at some kind of basic, fundamental, primal level. The pleasure was almost unendurable, and the source of that pleasure was Reed. He cried out as his entire body pulsed in time with his cock. And the pleasure didn't end. It lasted forever.

When he was aware of himself again, he was breathing hard. Reed's face was close to his. "Are you all right?" Reed asked. He stroked Tucker's temple and hair. His body was warm against Tucker's.

Tucker managed to nod. "Oh, god," he said. "I've never experienced anything like that." He exhaled a shuddering breath as Reed drew out the wine bottle. His sphincter fluttered, its own little orgasm, and he groaned at the sensation, arms flexing.

"I think I need to tie you up more often," said Reed thoughtfully. "I had no idea you would have such a reaction. Or was it having something inside you while I sucked you?"

"I don't know which it was," Tucker said, his body arching against Reed's touch, his bound arms all but forgotten. "Oh, god. Inside me. Please." Reed slid a hand around Tucker's ass and gently insinuated a finger, and Tucker shut his eyes and groaned again. The pleasure he felt at the pressure was indescribable. He had just come, but his cock was growing harder instead of softer. "Please," he begged, and then Reed's body was moving behind his, and Reed's suddenly hard cock was pushing into him, and Reed's hand was on Tucker's dick, and Reed was thrusting into him, and then Tucker dissolved into pleasure again as Reed fucked him, hard and fast, Tucker on his knees and bent forward, one of Reed's hands rubbing up and down Tucker's thigh and the other rubbing up and down Tucker's cock. Tucker was aware only of Reed and Reed's touch, and then his existence was reduced to blinding orgasm.

Tucker was hardly aware of Reed's body over his as they panted together, spent. He was more aware of the coldness and release of pressure when Reed pulled out and rolled off him. Reed pushed Tucker over onto his side and lay next to him, face to face, one arm on Tucker's hip. They didn't say anything. They just looked at each other, breathing hard. Reed's eyes were a clear blue. Tucker loved Reed's changeable eyes.

When he could speak, a few minutes later, Tucker said, "Malcolm, I can't promise I won't hurt you. I can't promise I won't be taken over by evil aliens and do something incredibly stupid. Plus I can do incredibly stupid things all on my own, too. Just ask my mother."

Reed kissed him gently. "I know," he said, hand caressing Tucker's thigh.

"I'm sorry. I never wanted to hurt you."

"I'm sorry too."

"Please take me back, Malcolm." Tucker's voice was hoarse. "Please."

Reed moved his hand to Tucker's face and brushed away the moisture by Tucker's eyes, then wiped his own eyes. "I couldn't be with you. I couldn't be without you," Reed said. "It's because I love you. You know I love you, right? That never changed."

"Right," Tucker said. "I know. I love you too. Please. Please take me back."

Reed's hand stroked Tucker's neck, then wound his fingers in Tucker's hair. "Can I tie you up whenever I want?" he asked lightly, his tone belying the seriousness of his face. He wiped his face again.

Tucker sniffed, then grinned. "Yes," he said. "Whenever you want. Whatever you want." He meant it. Giving in to Reed had its rewards.

"All right, then," Reed decided. "I'll take you back." He kissed Tucker, a kiss without demand. "I'm very happy I won the lottery," he whispered, and he kissed Tucker again, then sat up. "Let me untie you." He found a shard and began hacking at Tucker's bonds. "And I have an answer to your question."

Tucker had to think for a second. "What's your answer?"

"The answer is yes. I still want you."

"Well, I kind of figured that."

"Cocky bastard." Reed's voice was amused.

A moment later, Tucker's arms were free. He took the opportunity to pull Reed against him. Untying his legs could wait. "You got that right."

Then there was silence as the two men leaned into each other. The sounds of the party upstairs drifted down, but they were too preoccupied with each other to hear.

*** 6

Two days later, Tucker, grabbing an early lunch, found an empty table and set out a padd to review the topic of a meeting he had to run in two hours. He found himself smiling down at the padd. He was unable to focus. He and Reed had reached a new understanding. They had spent the last few hours of their two days and two nights making up. Although they had had to experience the humiliation of walking barefoot in their blue underwear through the busy club, Reed carping about the stench permeating his underwear, at least they had been able to walk out. Hopping through while bound would have been much worse. Then, when they had tried to return to their hotel rooms to clean up, they found that the management had given up on them because they hadn't entered their rooms for more than twelve hours and had sent all their stuff back up to Enterprise. To top it off, the stench of the liquor—either the liquor that had gotten all over Reed or the liquor they had used as lubricant—had been a topic of conversation on the shuttle up.

They had visited the hotel's security to give descriptions of their attackers and file a report, but Tucker got the distinct feeling that the security personnel were more amused than anything; nothing of real value had been taken. In fact, it was hard to believe that thieves with such sophisticated technology would settle for a few clothes and the contents of their pockets. But because the attack had occurred at their facility, the hotel management waived the fee for the return of their belongings and threw in some robes and flip-flop sandals from one of the spas so they could catch the shuttle up. They barely made it, and then they had to put up with the biting comments of their friends. Both of them refused to say what had happened. It seemed better that way. But Rostov gave Tucker a smile as the two of them boarded when Tucker gave him an unobtrusive thumbs-up. All in all, it wasn't quite the trip that Tucker had envisioned when he won the lottery. It was better. It was much, much better. Sure, he'd lost his lucky shirt. But it wasn't like he needed it anymore.

Tucker was paging forward on his padd to at least review the minutes of last week's meeting when Reed joined him. "Busy day?" Reed asked, setting his tray down next to Tucker's almost empty one.

"Not really. You?" Tucker smiled at Reed and gave up all pretense of preparing for the meeting. Reed had spent the night in Tucker's quarters, and when the alarm had gone off at 3 a.m., Tucker had shut it off firmly and drawn Reed in. He didn't think he could bear waking up without Reed, now that he had him back. Reed had left Tucker's quarters at 7:30 a.m. They had broken one of their previous cardinal rules: leave at a time when no one would see you.

"Don't smile at me like that," Reed whispered, but he was smiling too.

Tucker wiped the smile off. "Why?" he whispered back.

"Because you have this look in your eyes."

"Look? What look?"

"Bedroom eyes," Reed clarified.

"Oh! You mean I look like I want to carry you back to my quarters, remove all your clothing, and—"

"Yes," Reed interrupted. "You look just like that."

"Maybe that's what I want to do."

"You'll see me tonight. Why, can't you wait?"

"You really need to ask?"

Reed laughed. "No. I don't need to ask."

"Did you run into anybody this morning when you left?" Tucker asked, switching the subject.

"Hoshi," Reed said. "She gets up at 6:30 to exercise, so I met her in the lift on her way back to her quarters."

"Oh, so no one saw you—"

"No, I don't think so." Reed took a bite of food.

"Okay, good," Tucker said. He stacked his dishes on his tray in preparation for returning it, but he stopped what he was doing when he noticed that Reed was looking at him intently. "What?" he asked.

"'Okay, good'?" Reed asked, mimicking Tucker's accent. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Not this again," Tucker sighed. He stuck all his silverware on his plate and pushed his tray away. Reed and Tucker had gone around and around before and had been unable to decide whether or not to let others know they were seeing each other. It had put a strain on their relationship, but neither was willing to come out.

"Yes, this again," Reed snapped.

Tucker met Reed's eyes. "Just tell me what you want. I'll do it. No argument, no questions."

There was a pause as Reed digested this. Before he could respond, a light voice said, "Can I join you gentlemen?"

Tucker looked up and saw Hoshi Sato, holding a tray, standing expectantly behind an empty chair. He put his head in his hands, wiped his face and drew his fingers through his hair, and sat back. "Yes," he said, just as Reed said, "No."

Sato paused. "Which is it, yes or no?" she asked drily. "I'm so happy that you're so happy to see me."

"Deep discussion," Tucker said, as though that explained everything.

"I'll just go sit over there," Sato said, indicating another table with a finger and beginning to turn away.

"No, don't." Tucker stood up. "I have to go, actually. I have a meeting soon. So have a seat."

"Trip," Reed said, setting down his fork and knife, but then he sighed and didn't go on.

Tucker looked down at Reed and made an executive decision. He acted on it before he could change his mind. "Malcolm, I don't want to fight." He stuck the padd in a pocket of his uniform, then put one hand on the table and the other on the back of Reed's chair. Before Reed could react, he leaned down and kissed him lightly on the mouth. "I hate fighting with you," he said, and kissed him again, deeper and longer this time. "You always win anyway," he finished, and this time, Reed kissed him back, bringing up a hand to caress Tucker's cheek. Tucker pulled back, and Reed smiled at him. "I love you. I'll see you tonight."

He grabbed his tray and grinned at Sato, who was standing there, struck dumb, looking from one to the other. The five or six other people in the mess looked equally surprised; a few people were turning around in their chairs to get a look. Tucker whistled tunelessly through his teeth as he returned his tray. He had judged the risk to be acceptable. It would be all over the ship by dinner. As he exited, he heard Reed say, "Sit down, Hoshi, before you drop that tray."

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