Title: So I've Seen (Do You See What I Did There?)

Author: Buttercup

Author's email: buttercupgaud@aol.com

Date: 08/31/02

Feedback: Go on you know you want to.

Disclaimer: The guys don't belong to me they belong to Paramount and I certainly didn't make any money out of this.

Distribution: Yes, at EntSTSlash, Tim Ruben, Archers_Enterprise, Allslash, Situation Room, and WWoMB; anyone else, ask and you shall receive.

Pairings: Tucker/Reed

Rating: PG-13? For swearing mostly.

Sequel to: So I See

Notes/warnings: Here's a sequel, because as a few people pointed out Jon and Trip still haven't sorted things out. And so they will, in their own way. I'm getting there, so bear with me! A big thank you to the lovely Sue. Anyone able to put up with my neurosis is in need of a medal. Also, this is for the lovely people who wanted a squeal, here it is.

Summary: Things need sorting. It's a big ol' mess, will they be able to clear it up?

Sequel to: So I See

Notes/warnings: This is a sequel to So I See. As a few people pointed out Jon and Trip still haven't sorted things out. And so they will, in their own way. I'm getting there, so bear with me! A big thank you to the lovely Sue. Anyone able to put up with my neurosis is in need of a medal. Also, this is for the lovely people who wanted a squeal, here it is. Summary: Things need sorting. It's a big ol' mess, will they be able to clear it up?


Broken bottles, broken plates, broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts, streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken

—Bob Dylan

Trip drifted in a haze of semi-unconsciousness. He held Malcolm in his arms tightly, as though afraid of what might happen if he let go. It'd been a month since Malcolm had turned up at Trip's quarters and told the commander that he was willing to give their relationship another go. Trip still couldn't quite believe it. He was sure that Malcolm would change his mind again.

But so far he didn't seem to have. Malcolm had come to Trip's quarters every day after his shift had finished and they'd fallen asleep in each others arms. Neither of them spoke. Trip supposed Malcolm didn't say anything because he had nothing to say. He had admitted the second time he'd turned up that he couldn't sleep if Trip wasn't there. Again Trip found himself feeling guilty over something he should be happy to hear. That was part of the reason he didn't say anything. He didn't want to pressure Malcolm into doing anything that he wasn't ready for. Even if that was something simple like talking.

Then after about a week, Malcolm had begun to ask Trip about his day. Trip would tell him and then ask about Malcolm's day. After that they'd go to sleep. It wasn't much, but it made Trip's heart sing to be able to talk to the other man again.

Other people noticed the change in him too. Trip had started showering and shaving regularly. He was sleeping better than he had been too. The dark circles under his eyes had begun to fade. When people asked what had changed, Trip wouldn't say. He wasn't really sure what was happening himself and didn't want to jinx it by telling anyone.

Then, a few days later, things had changed again. Malcolm had started talking to him in public. It was a simple 'good morning' as they passed in the corridor. Trip had grinned like a loon for at least an hour afterwards. The two people on his engineering team that were with him at the time had looked very shocked indeed. Trip had continued to smile.

The commander knew that the alarm was about to go off, that he had to go on duty very soon. He relished these times, when he just lay next to Malcolm. Surrounded by the other man's scent, warmth, it was the only time that Trip felt complete. He closed his eyes and gently kissed the soft, dark hair in front of him.

A loud beeping made Trip jump. He sighed and rolled over and switched it off. Time to face the day.


The next morning Malcolm spotted Trip sitting by himself in the mess hall. After getting a cup of tea he walked over and sat down next to the commander.

Trip just stared dumbly at him.

"You okay?" Malcolm asked after taking a sip of the hot liquid.

"Yeah," Trip answered, "What-?" he asked, after looking at Malcolm for a moment.

"I can't sit with you?" Malcolm asked, with a lift of a single eyebrow.

"You can," Trip clarified, "I just didn't think that you'd want to. I didn't think you'd want people—"

"To see us together?" Malcolm asked. He looked sad for a moment before he continued speaking. "You seem to be suggesting there's something wrong in what we're doing," was Malcolm's rather perceptive answer.

"Isn't there?"

"No," Malcolm looked at Trip seriously, "There is absolutely nothing wrong in both of us making ourselves happy."

"Are you? Happy, I mean," Trip voiced his fears for the fist time.

"No," Malcolm shook his head. Trip's heart sank down to somewhere in his boots. "I won't be happy until we're back to normal."

Trip breathed out heavily in relief.

"I don't think people will understand," Trip said, not really sure how he should answer Malcolm's pervious statement.

"'People'" Malcolm said through clenched teeth, "Can go to hell. I want this. This will make me happy. Eventually."

"I love you," Trip said.

"I know." Malcolm sipped his tea again.


Trip wandered back into the mess hall that night, his stomach growling. He hadn't eaten since that morning. Plus he seemed to still be catching up on food that he'd neglected to eat during his separation from Malcolm.

"Trip!" the commander turned at the sound of his name. Then smiled broadly. Malcolm was sitting with Travis in a corner. "Come sit with us," Malcolm called and pulled out a chair to his right. Trip nodded and went to fetch something to eat.

"Evening," he greeted as he sat down.

"Hey," Travis looked a little suspicious.

"How are you?" Malcolm asked, conversationally.

"Great," Trip answered as he brought the fork to his lips, "things got a little hectic down in engineering for awhile there. It's all sorted now though."

"That's good," Malcolm smiled.

"What are you two up to?" Trip asked looking back and forth between Travis and Malcolm.

"Oh," Malcolm said, fixing Trip with his blue-grey eyes. "We're not having an affair. Travis and I haven't been having sex or anything, we're just talking."

Trip dropped his fork and gaped at Malcolm. He looked at Travis who was sporting a very similar expression to Trip. There was a long pause, where Trip felt the blood in his veins turn cold. This was like a nightmare. Trip's stupidity was going to haunt him forever. Malcolm would never believe that Trip trusted him again. He'd never-

Malcolm laughed.

"Stop it!" he gasped, "You both look like a couple of fishes out of water!"

"What the hell?" Travis said.

"What?" Trip asked at the same time.

Malcolm looked like he was about to answer, but just laughed again. "That was just too funny. You should have seen your face!" He said after he calmed down.

"Yeah," Travis answered, "real funny."

"Well," Malcolm said looking at both of them in turn. "I either laugh about what happened, or I cry. Which would you prefer?"

"Laugh." Both answered straight away.

Malcolm laughed again, and drained his cup before standing up. "Gentlemen," he said, "it's been a pleasure. I'll see you tomorrow, Travis. And I'll see you," he pointed at Trip, "later tonight." Then he strode from the room, a smile tugging at his lips.

"What was all that about?" Travis wondered aloud.

"I think," Trip said, "that was Malcolm showing me that he could be happy."

"Have I told you that you're the luckiest guy I know yet?" Mayweather asked.

"I don't think so," Trip said.

"If you'd done that to me," Travis shook his head, "They'd still be finding bits of you all over the ship."

"I know I'm lucky," Trip looked at the other man very seriously. "I really, do. I can't believe it myself most of the time. I'm waiting to wake up."

"Well," Travis stretched and stood up from the table. "If he can forgive you, then I'm happy. But hurt him like that again, and I don't care if I am your subordinate, *I'll* be spreading little Trip Tucker bits all over Enterprise."

"I won't. And besides," Trip added with a rueful smile, "If I did, you wouldn't have to, I'd do it myself."

"Good, then we don't have to talk about this again." Travis nodded at Trip, "I'll see around."

"Bye," Trip called after the retreating form.

Trip smiled to himself. Malcolm continued to surprise Trip after all this time. Just when he thought that he'd finished his Malcolm puzzle, Trip discovered that he was missing a little bit of it. It was why he loved Malcolm so much, he was sure. Trip laughed and shook his head. He couldn't believe that Malcolm could make a joke out of such a hideous event.

It did seem that Malcolm was healing though. The wound that Trip had caused had been so deep, so painful, that the commander hadn't believed that it would ever heal. He also knew that they couldn't really conduct a relationship if it didn't. It was why Trip lived in a state of anxiety. He was waiting for Malcolm to decide that being with Trip was more difficult than being without him.

Malcolm laughing about what had happened suggested that he wasn't hurting over it as much. That he *was* healing. That made Trip breathe a little more easily.

When he got back to his quarters he found Malcolm waiting outside.

"Hey," Trip called as he approached. "Why didn't you let yourself in?"

"I wasn't sure of you'd want me to," Malcolm said, looking anxious. "You are welcome here, whenever. Whether I'm in or not," Trip answered with a shake of his head as he keyed in his access code.

"I'm sorry," Malcolm said softly when they got inside.

Trip turned the lights on and then turned to face Malcolm. "Why are you sorry?" he asked, genuinely confused.

"About earlier. I shouldn't have said that. I didn't think. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings—"

"Well, I'm not sure that's really true," Trip answered as he walked over to his bed. "*But*" he continued before Malcolm could cut in, "it's nothing less than I deserve. I know this isn't something that you can just get over.

I do want you to remember something though," Trip locked eyes with Malcolm, "I'll never doubt you again. I swear."

"That's good to know," Malcolm said coolly. Trip knew that the other man wasn't convinced. It didn't matter. It just meant that Trip would have to prove himself. He'd known that he'd have to do that anyway, and he would, one day. "I really wasn't doing it to hurt you," Malcolm insisted as he pulled at the zip of his uniform.

"No?" Trip questioned.

Malcolm sighed and brought his hands to his face. "No," he confirmed. "I didn't want what happened to become the preverbal pink elephant in the room. Not talking about it makes it into this huge, evil thing. It makes everything worse. And this is *not* something that needs making worse. We should be able to talk about it. Hell, we should be able to laugh about it if it helps." "You're right," Trip said after thinking about it for a moment.

"Okay, good. But I'm still sorry if I hurt your feelings," Malcolm said as he headed off towards the bathroom.

"I understand," Trip called after him. He watched the door shut and grinned.

It felt great to be able to talk to Malcolm again.

The door opened about ten minutes later to reveal Malcolm clad in a soft, white towel. Trip suddenly decided that it was much to hot in his small quarters.

"I seem to have made a slight error," Malcolm was saying when Trip dragged his thoughts out of the gutter.

"What's that?"

"I didn't bring any clean clothes, could I borrow some of yours?"

"Sure." Trip busied himself with getting an old T-shirt and some boxers for Malcolm. He handed them over and Malcolm smiled.

"Thank you," he then lent over and gave Trip a peck on the forehead before disappearing into the bathroom for a second time. Trip put his hand to the spot where Malcolm's lips had been. The skin tingled. Trip's face broke into a huge grin. He hadn't felt this good in what seemed like years.

When the door opened Malcolm emerged in Trip's T-shirt. The commander had to fight hard not to laugh out loud at the way the material swamped the smaller man. It was a little bit too big for Trip, but Malcolm practically swam in it. The armoury officer looked…for want of a better word, cute. Trip shook his head; this day was getting stranger and stranger.

"Listen, Trip," Malcolm said, making Trip snap to attention. There was something in the tone that made Trip panic. "There's something that we need to talk about."


Looking from the outside

You're always looking in

You think you fixed the problem

'Til it comes right back again

And life seems like a trap

You're trying to get out

You're searching for you cheese

'Cause you feel like mighty mouse

You're damned if you don't

You're damned if you do

You've seen all the signs

But you haven't got a clue


Trip sat down on the bed, taking a couple of steadying breaths. "Okay," he said, when he'd got himself together enough for his voice not to tremble.

"Well, for a start," Malcolm said, raising his eyebrows, "I don't know how any self respecting man could have half the amount of hair care products that you do." He smiled warmly at Trip.

The commander chuckled. Malcolm had obviously sensed Trip's panic and had made a joke to reassure him. "I don't know what you mean," Trip answered with a grin, "I just like to look nice, and I'll have you know most of those are yours."

"If you say so," Malcolm nodded.

"Oh don't you 'If you say so' me," Trip said standing up, a smile on his lips.

"What? I was agreeing!" "I know all about your 'If you say so's! They mean 'I don't agree one little bit'."

Malcolm shook his head before saying, "I think you know me far too well."

"It's why you love me," Trip answered on reflex. It was how he always answered Malcolm's grumbles over Trip's annoying behaviour. But Malcolm hadn't really mentioned how he felt about Trip since that rather surreal night when he and Trip had gotten back together. Trip winced and wondered if what he'd said was a little presumptuous.

"Yeah," Malcolm said, almost to himself, "I suppose that is part of it."

Trip gulped in the air. He suddenly felt a little light headed. But in a completely fantastic way.

"So," he said, clearing his throat and changing the topic before Malcolm could change his mind, "what else did you want to talk about?"

"You and Jon," Malcolm answered solemnly. "I think it's about time the two of you sort yourselves out."

"I've got everything that I need," Trip answered smoothly as he sat back down. It wasn't really a lie. He could carry on life without Jon, as long as Malcolm was there. Not that Trip didn't miss his best friend. He did. He really, really did. Sometimes it was like an ache in his stomach. He wanted to talk Jon, sort things out, but he was afraid. Trip was never very good at handling rejection, and from someone he cared about as much as he did Jon it would be almost unbearable.

"Nice try," Malcolm answered with a half-smile. "A very good try in fact, but you're not getting out of it that easy."

"I'm not trying to get out of anything."

"You and Jon mean the world to each other, Trip," Malcolm sat down on the bed next to the commander. "Why do you want to just throw all that away?"

"I don't!" Trip protested, "I just don't know what I can do about it."

"Have you said you're sorry?" Malcolm asked, although it seemed he was well aware of the answer.

"Not in so many words…" Trip trailed off and thought for a moment, "I did try though. Only he nearly smacked me one, so I never got to say it."

"And when was this?" Malcolm had now adopted a tone that suggested he was talking to a particularly dumb three year old.

"In the mess hall," Trip admitted.

"You mean, right after you humiliated him in front of his entire crew and threw years of friendship back in his face? You mean right after you broke one of his closest friend's heart into millions of pieces in front of everyone? You mean—"

"Alright!" Trip interrupted, "Gees, I know, I know that maybe that wasn't the best time to say it."

"Maybe?" Malcolm raised his eyebrows.

"Okay, it definitely wasn't the best time."

"And I notice that while you turned into my personal stalker, you didn't try and see Jon once." Malcolm took the sting out of his gentle teasing by taking Trip's hand in his and running a thumb over Trip's knuckles.

"I know, I should have tried harder, but it was…I don't know, just different," Trip sighed in defeat.

"I'd like it if you two of you could make it up," Malcolm said softly, his hand was running up and down the length of Trip's arm and the commander desperately wanted to close his eyes and just concentrate on Malcolm's touch. However, he knew that that could be potentially dangerous. He was liable to agree to anything when he was that relaxed, and he didn't want to do that at the moment. The thought of facing Jon was still terrifying.

"It's not that I don't want to," Trip said, looking at Malcolm, "The worst moment of my life was when you said you wanted nothing more to do with me." Malcolm looked like he was abut to interrupt, but Trip held up his hand, "Let me finish?" he requested, Malcolm nodded. "I didn't think I was going to be able to get through that time without you. Now that we're back together, however weird things are now, I feel better. A hell of a lot better than I could of ever imagined feeling a few weeks back. The thing is though," Trip drew a deep breathe before addressing his main point, "I don't feel up to Jon telling me that he doesn't like me anymore. I'm not strong enough yet. Give me some time to feel like I have the centre you my universe," Trip paused and smiled, "That's you by the way," he added, Malcolm blushed a delicate pink that made Trip's toes curl. "Once I have it back and stable, then maybe I'll be able to face whatever Jon wants to throw at me. I just think that if he told me now he doesn't want to be my friend, I'd let it go. I don't have the energy to disagree with him. In a few weeks, I'll be feeling better enough to stalk him around Enterprise, how's that sound?"

"I love you, Trip," was Malcolm's only answer to this.

"Does that mean you'll leave me be?" Trip asked while his heart was pounding in his chest.

Malcolm smiled. Trip watched him closely, unsure of whether he'd won the argument or not.


Malcolm rang the door chime three times before the doors slid open. Jon stood there for a second looking at him.

"What?" Malcolm asked, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

"Nothing," Jon shook his head, "I just wasn't expecting to see you, that's all."

"Can I come in?" Malcolm asked.

"Sure," Jon stood aside and motioned for Malcolm to enter, which he did after smiling at Archer.

"Why weren't you expecting to see me?" Malcolm inquired as he took a seat.

"I heard about you and Trip."

"And that means what? Exactly?" Malcolm was frowning now.

"I figured that he wouldn't really want you and me to see that much of each other. And then there's the fact that you two have a lot of things that need to be worked through." Jon finished but didn't sit down, choosing instead to stand in front of Malcolm.

"Trip knows better than to tell me who I can and can't see," Malcolm informed the captain curtly. "And even if he didn't, do you really believe that he could stop me seeing a friend?"

"I don't know, I didn't even think that you two would…" Jon trailed off, looking a little annoyed.

"Well, we have," Malcolm answered. He gave Jon a calculating look before continuing. "I gave him another chance. I think one that he deserves, and one that you should give him too."

"I don't think so," Jon looked at the floor. "Trip and me are work colleagues, and that is all."

"Jon," Malcolm spoke softly, and Jon looked up so their eyes met. "He misses you, you miss him. I don't see what the problem here is."

"I don't miss him," Jon all but pouted, breaking the eye contact he looked back at the floor.

"Oh for goodness' shake," Malcolm snapped. He stood up. "I suppose the two of you will be pulling each others hair in the playground next!"

"He hasn't even said sorry!" Jon protested. For the first time Malcolm saw the hurt in the older man's eyes.

"Maybe you haven't given him the chance."

"Huh," Jon shrugged and turned away to look out of his window.

"Fine," Malcolm nodded, looking annoyed. "If the two of you aren't even going to try, then I don't know why I'm bothering. I'm going, I'll see you later, Jon." Malcolm waited, hoping that Jon would apologise and say that he'd try.

"See you," Jon didn't even turn around. Malcolm sighed dramatically and stalked from the room.


Trip wandered into the armoury about three days later. He looked around hoping to find Malcolm. He'd just finished his shift and knew that Malcolm was about to start his. He was going to tell the lieutenant to drop by his quarters when he finished his shift. Trip was hoping to make it into a sort regular thing, he couldn't seem to get enough of seeing Malcolm. It was turning into a rather sad obsession on Trip's part. Luckily Malcolm didn't seem to be tiring of Trip yet, so all was well.

Unfortunately the only person in the room was the captain. This made Trip frown, Jon didn't come here very often.

Trip was about to make his way out of the room again when Jon turned around. Trip was half tempted to leave anyway, but decided that that would be rude.

"Hey, Cap'n," he offered.

"Commander," Jon nodded stiffly back. The use of his rank made Trip wince. Jon had never called him by his rank, not even when they were on duty.

"Have you seen Malcolm?" Trip asked, after an awkward silence.

"He left about five minutes ago," Jon answered formally before turning back to the console he'd been looking at when Trip entered the room. Trip watched him for a few seconds. Then he sighed, feeling slightly annoyed at being snubbed and turned to walk from the room.

Just as Trip was at the doors the lights in the armoury flicked off, as did all the consoles around the room.

"What the—" Trip said, looking about him.

Jon was at his side "What's going on?" he snapped.

Trip shrugged before realising that the captain couldn't see him. "I don't know," he answered. The figure at Trip's shoulder disappeared. The commander assumed that Jon had gone to see if he could get the power restored.

"Jon?" a voice called through the door.

"Malcolm?" Trip yelled back.


"Malcolm?" Jon was next to Trip again.

"What's going on?" Trip called, through the door.

"We're not sure, the power on this deck just cut out."

"Why just this deck?" Jon called.

"We don't know." Malcolm said, sounding worried. "Are you two okay in there?"

"I think so," Jon said after a moment.

The lights flickered back on. And Trip blinked against the light. He turned to the consoles, but they were still black.

"The lights are back on," Trip said.

"Well, aren't you just a regular Sherlock Holmes," Jon said with a roll of his eyes.

"Won't the door open?" Malcolm asked. He didn't seem to have heard the interplay between Trip and Jon.

Trip tried the button by the side of the door. "No," he called back.

"All the other doors are working again," Malcolm informed them. Trip could practically hear the other man frown in confusion.

"Well, this one ain't" Trip answered, now a little worried. Of all the people on the ship the last person he wanted to be stuck with was Jon. He'd probably die of hypothermia from how cold Jon was being toward him before they got the doors open.

"Well, that door has been sticking a lot lately," Malcolm answered.

"Okay, what do you usually do?" Jon called back, he was sounding a little tense himself.

"Well," Malcolm began, sounding nervous, "We just give the relays by the door a sharp kick and it—"

"You've been kicking m'relays!" Trip cut in sounding horrified.


"Why didn' ya call someone to get 'em fixed?" Trip demanded, his irritation thickening his accent.

"I did!" Malcolm sounded vaguely annoyed. "But what did I get? 'Keep ya shirt on Liewtenant, Ah'll send someone down soon as we got someone ta spare'," Malcolm did a rather good, if not slightly exaggerated impression of Trip's accent.

Trip just huffed at this. He did remember Malcolm saying something to him now he mentioned it…"What are we doing to do then?" Jon asked.

"I'm working on getting them running again." Malcolm told them calmly. "You two just sit tight. You're not due back on duty for a bit, are you?"

"No," Jon said, "but I can think of things I'd rather be doing than sitting in here with—" he stopped himself just short of saying the name all three knew was on the captain's lips.

"Well, it ain't my first choice either," Trip grumbled.

"I have an idea," Malcolm called.

"What's that?" Trip wondered.

"Do you remember what we did on Shuttlepod one, while waiting to be rescued?" the lieutenant asked.

Trip grinned, he did indeed remember.

"Wipe that smirk off your face Commander!" Malcolm called. Trip's smile died. Malcolm could see through doors now? "I don't think the captain would be very interested in that sort of activity." From the glare Trip was getting from Jon he had to agree. "I was referring to the bourbon." Malcolm continued.

"Oh," Trip said, now confused.

"I have a very fine bottle of scotch that I'm hi…keeping safe in the armoury. It's in with the phase pistols. You and the captain are more than welcome to it. It'll give you something to do…" Trip wondered if Malcolm was grinning. "ease the pain." That bastard probably was.

"Are you suggesting that we just sit here and get drunk?" Archer asked incredulously.

"If you have a better idea…" Malcolm trailed off, "I'll be back later on. Hopefully we'll have some more news."

"Malcolm," Jon called through the door, "Malcolm! Get back here!"

There was no reply.


Jon scowled at the other occupant of the room. In one look he managed to convey his annoyance at being suck with Trip, his anger over not being able to help mend his own ship, his suspicion that this was all Trip's fault, and a promise of pay back. Trip winced and then set about looking for Malcolm's hidden scotch.

"Ah ha!" he said, pulling out the bottle. He looked at the label, Malcolm was right. It was a nice scotch. He quickly unscrewed the cap and was about to take a swig when he saw Jon watching him. "First sip?" he offered, holding out the bottle.

Jon glared and without answering snatched the bottle away from Trip. He wondered if it was possible to just down the whole thing in one, just to spite Trip. After two gulps he decided that it definitely wasn't.

Trip sighed and looked up the ceiling. Well, he thought, this was going to be fun. He watched as Jon gulped at the amber liquid and then Trip sat down on the floor, his back against the wall.

"So," he said, tapping his fingers against his knees.

"What?" Jon growled. He sighed and held out the bottle to Trip.

"Nothing, I guess." Trip took the bottle and drank heavily from it. He sighed as he brought it back from his lips. He was about to ask if the captain had any idea what had knocked out the power when Jon glared at him.

"Can we just not talk until Malcolm figures out a way to get us out of here?" he asked irritably.

"Sure," Trip answered. He sat staring blankly ahead.

Jon sighed loudly and sat down next to Trip. Trip began to tap his fingers against his knees again. Then his feet joined them as he tapped out a rhythm.

"Stop!" Jon barked as he picked the bottle up from the floor and took another gulp.

"Sorry," Trip mumbled. He looked up the ceiling and was contemplating how exactly that stain had could have got there when Jon spoke.

"You're the most annoying man I know," the captain informed him, drinking more scotch before and after the sentence.

"Is that so?" Trip asked, reaching for and snagging the bottle away from Jon and drinking some from it.

"Yes," Jon answered.

Trip wasn't sure how he should answer that and so decided that it would be best if he didn't. The silence stretched on and bit by bit the scotch crept down the bottle.

"I mean it," Jon said, he nodded vigorously and then stopped when the room span wildly.

"Mean wha'? Trip asked, squinting at Jon.

"You're the most irritating person that I've met."

"Thought I was the most annoying 'man' you knew," Trip said with a despondent sigh.

"That too," Jon said. There was a long pause during which Trip hoped the captain would follow his own plea for silence. Then Jon said, "I mean, why would you do that?"

"Do what?" Trip asked, knowing what was coming.

"Why would you ask Joanne to dance with you when you knew I liked her?"

That was not what Trip was expecting. "Huh?"

"I said I was going to ask her, I said, right after I got that drink I was going to ask her," Jon wagged his finger. "But you," he pointed his finger at Trip, "Waited 'til I'd gone to the bar and you asked her first."

"Jon, that was five years ago," Trip protested.

"That doesn't make it right," Jon said, looking down into the bottle.

"If it makes you feel any better," Trip said glumly, "She was married and dropped me like hot potato then her husband turned up." Trip thought for a second, "Besides, didn't you leave with the bartender?" Jon smiled fondly, "Jason," he nodded.

"Then I don't know what your problem is," Trip took the bottle out of Jon's hands and took another two swigs before handing it back to the captain.

"You always insisted on having top bunk," Jon said suddenly.

"You don't like heights," Trip countered.

"You can't take a joke, like that time on Jupiter Station with Anne—"

"My hair was green for a month, Jon!" Trip protested. He put a hand to his hair, as though afraid the bright colour might still be there.

"You never take no for an answer," Jon glared at Trip, "Like when I don't want you to take my photo, you take my photo! It's annoying!"

"They needed a photo! That was Startfleet's fault!"

"You spilt red wine all over the rug my parents got me as a present for getting promoted to Lieutenant."

"You hated that God damn rug! You used to talk about nothing else! You *thanked* me!"

"You didn't even say sorry, Trip!" Jon yelled. "You never say sorry!"

"That's not true!" Trip yelled back. "It is! When was the last time you said sorry to me?"

Trip thought for a second, the scotch was making his head fuzzy.

"See?" Jon said, "You can't remember."

"Yeah!" Trip said, "When I forgot to call round to see you after an away mission, because I got caught up with Malcolm. I said sorry then."

"Huh," Jon huffed and looked for the bottle, before realising it was in his hand. "Don't see how you deserve Malcolm."

Trip winced at the statement. "Me neither," he answered sadly.

Jon looked at the floor. "I'm not sorry I said that," he answered.

"I know," Trip said.

"Well, maybe a little," Jon conceded.

"Thanks," Trip said, then, "I'm sorry about Joanne, and taking the top bunk and that I can't take a joke, or no for an answer."

"Good," Jon said. "I kissed him."

"I know." Trip didn't need to ask who Jon was talking about.

"He's a good kisser," Jon said after a moment.

"I know," Trip repeated.

"Does he always do that thing?" Jon waved his hand vaguely, "You know, after you kiss?"

"Don't!" Trip snapped "Just don't."

Jon nodded and shook the bottle before bringing it to his lips. There was a long pause and then Trip said:

"Yeah, he does."

Jon nodded. "'t's nice."

"Fantastic," Trip agreed. Trip thought for a second, "Do you want to do it again?"

"Maybe," Jon answered noncommittally.

"That a yes?"

"Would it bother you?"


"Then yes."

"That's what I thought."

There was a much longer silence this time. Trip wondered if Jon had fallen asleep.

"Why didn't you say sorry to me?"

Trip jumped violently, obviously he hadn't. "About what this time?"

"You said sorry lots and lots to Malcolm, but not once to me."

"Oh," Trip said. This was the subject he was dreading. "You want to know the truth?"

"Yea'" Jon said.

"I wasn't ready for our friendship to be over. It would have hurt too much."

"Oh," Jon sighed and pulled at the sleeve of his uniform. "Are you?"

"Yes, I'm very sorry," Trip said.

"For which bit?"

"All the bits," Trip said, and then giggled.

"It's not funny," Jon complained.

"It is a bit funny," Trip said.

"Is not," Jon said, but his lips twitched.

"You kissed him to hurt me." It wasn't a question.

"Did it work?"


A nod, then: "Good."

"All even then?" Trip asked.

"No," Jon said.

"What can I do so it'll be even?" Trip asked.

"Walk through the mess hall naked. Holding up a sign that says 'I'm sorry, Jon'," Jon sniggered at the image. Trip joined him.

"You really want me to?"

"Would you really do it?"

Trip squinted as he thought about this, "Can I have a big sign that covers up little Tucker?"

"Wouldn't need to be very big," Jon mused.


Jon laughed. "But yeah, if you want, you can have a sign that covers it all up."

"Then okay, I will."

"Fine," Jon stopped, "No, on the back of the sign it has to say 'I'm a stupid idiot who doesn't know a good thing when I've got it' and you have to keep turning it around. Then you have to climb on a chair and sing…'With A Little Help From My Friends,'"

"I'll have to write small," Trip mused. "I'm not sure I could remember all the words."

"Just do your best, Commander," Jon told him.

"Fine," Trip didn't say anything for a moment. He took the bottle from Jon and took a few gulps. "Are you going to kiss him again?"

"I don't think he wants me to," Jon said, not in the least bit confused by the sudden jump in conversation.

"Did I ask him to dance before you?" Trip wondered.

"No," Jon said.

"You sure?" "I won't try and kiss him, even if I want to. I don't want to hurt you, Trip. Even if you are the most annoying humanoid that I've ever encountered."


"Is this the bit where I tell you I've always envied you?" Jon asked with a rueful smile.

"Yep, but don't expect me to repay the compliment," Trip said.

"I don't think I'll bother then."

"Fair 'nuff," Trip said. "I've missed you."

"Haven't missed you, you're annoying, remember?"

"Yeah, right," Trip said, he sighed sadly.

"I did miss you at dinner though," Jon said, "And at the water polo matches, and when I couldn't tell you about missions, and when I couldn't ask for your advice about the Vulcans."

"Is that all?"

"And when I made a mistake at work," Jon said, "And when I threw Malcolm across my desk and kissed him stupid and made a complete ass myself, and you couldn't tell me what an idiot I am for it."

"Across your desk?" Trip asked.

"Yeah," Jon nodded.

"Wasn't that a little uncomfortable?"

"I didn't ask," Jon admitted.

Trip laughed, "Would have like to have seen his face."

Jon laughed too. "It was funny," he giggled some, "'Slut of the Enterprise'."


"Not important."


"I did miss you."

"I know."

"I don't forgive you, not until—"

"I walk around butt naked, I know."


Trip downed the last of the scotch. "Sorry," he said, holding it up, "I shoulda asked it you wanted that."

"That's okay," Jon said.

"Well, gentlemen," a voice from the doorway made both Trip and Jon look up. "It's about time that we got you back to your quarters, I think."

"Malcolm! You fixed the door!" Trip said, struggling to stand up, he stumbled and Jon reached out to steady him.

"Indeed," Malcolm agreed. He smiled at the two men. "I see you didn't kill each other."

"Nope," Trip shook his head, which made it hurt, so he stopped again.

"Talk about anything…relevant?"

"Talked about you," Jon said with a grin.

"I see," Malcolm looked a little uncomfortable.

"Yeah, you do the thing," Trip said. He and Jon giggled a little at this.

"The thing?" Malcolm asked.

"Uh huh," Jon closed his eyes and made a small noise in the back of his throat.

"The thing," Trip nodded toward Jon.

"I think you should get to bed," Malcolm said, choosing to ignore them both.

"Jon won't kiss you," Trip told him. The commander stressed this, and Malcolm assumed it was a very important.

"Trip's going to be naked," Jon said as he staggered toward the door.

"Okay then," Malcolm nodded. Drunk ramblings of Trip Tucker and Jon Archer was a language even Hoshi would have a hard time understanding.

With a lot of help from Malcolm, Jon and Trip found themselves outside the captain's quarters. "I'm going to help him inside," Malcolm said sternly to Trip, "You stay here."

"Yessir!" Trip tried to salute but poked himself in his right eye.

Malcolm lowered the captain onto his bed.

"There you go, Jon," Malcolm smiled, "Sleep well."

"You're a very sneaky, interfering and stubborn man, Malcolm," Jon called from the under the blanket the lieutenant threw over him.

"Sir?" Malcolm questioned.

"How many people did you have to ask for help, to get the power in the armoury cut off?"

"I'm afraid I don't understand you," Malcolm answered smoothly. "T'Pol believes that there was a power surge, and the reason the door wouldn't open was that it just…killed the already dying relays in the door."

"I don't believe a word of it," Jon said. "Thank you."

"Anytime," Malcolm turned out the lights and walked out of the door.

Trip was lent against the wall, and was slowly slipping down towards the ground.

"Come on, Trip," Malcolm said, taking hold of him. "Let's go to bed."

"Yessspleasse." Trip's eyes were dropping and by the time Malcolm had managed to get him into his quarters, take off his uniform and get him under the sheets, Trip was snoring lightly.

Malcolm chuckled, took off his own clothes and clambered in next to him. He sighed and put his head on Trip's chest and closed his eyes.

"Mal?" Trip mumbled.

"Hmmm?" Malcolm asked, a little surprised that the other man was still awake.

"Do we got any card and paint?"


"I need to make a sign."

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