TITLE: Gallows Walk 1


E-MAIL: scarab@blueyonder.co.uk

URL: http://www.lookout2.com/nautika/sara/

DATE: 10/22/02

SUMMARY: Archer thinks about Malcolm and his relationship with Trip, as they prepare to face their deaths…NOBODY DIES!

PAIRINGS: Reed/Tucker…although it's Archer's thoughts.

RATING: PG-13…to be on the safe side!

SERIES/SEQUEL: This fic has a sequel, Gallows Walk 2

ARCHIVE: My page on Nautika's site, thanks Nautika <g> and anywhere else, just remind me where it's going as I've got the brain of a goldfish!

WARNINGS: Major spoilers for 'The Communicator', minor one for 'Shuttlepod One'.

FEEDBACK: Yes please, it helps feed the bunnies!

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is dedicated to Nautika who has put up with me taking the michael out of Malcolm in our recent messages and as a thank you for sending the tapes and screencaps of season 2 to me in the UK! Thanks mate! :o) I hope you enjoy it!

DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately I don't own Enterprise or her crew, Paramount does (although Trip is always welcome as I can offer him a very good home!)

As we wait to be led out to our deaths I can't help but think how I've let Malcolm down. I know that he blames himself completely for the situation we are in but the blame is all mine. I think back to his initial excitement when we had got back to the ship about the prospect of writing up the report. I rarely see Malcolm joyful, I've always supposed that it was a result of the harsh upbringing he had and after speaking to his father I can understand why Malcolm rarely even smiles. I used to think it was something he never learnt to do, but lately that has changed and I've seen a difference in my Armoury officer. It's been subtle and sometimes you have to look for it, but Malcolm Reed is happy, probably for the first time in his life, he has something that makes him smile and even laugh…he has Trip.

I know Malcolm doesn't know that I know his secret and I would never let on, but Trip Tucker is the best friend I've ever had and best friends share secrets. I've known for a long time that Trip was bisexual. It's never bothered me, even after we got drunk and he admitted that he was attracted to me and if I was willing, he would love to get me into bed, but he knows I like women and only women and he respects that. I knew Trip was interested in Malcolm without him saying anything. I'd noticed the way he would stand behind him when he came on the bridge, the way he would look at him and when I asked him about it, he'd blushed and apologised and said nothing would come of it as Malcolm, from what he'd heard, was straight. Maybe so, but as I'd told my Chief Engineer I had seen Malcolm checking him out a few times too.

So in a way it was inevitable they would become lovers and I'm not sure when it actually happened. I suspect after almost dying in the shuttlepod, emotions were brought to the fore, but they are discreet and Trip only told me when I commented to him that something seemed to have put a smile on Malcolm's face. Now I look at that face and see the fear in his eyes and something else. I see regret. I am about to ask him about it but change my mind.

When they come to get us, Malcolm looks so small and, although he had said to me, he wasn't afraid, I sense the fear he is feeling as much as he is sensing mine. As we are marched out our hands tied behind us, I think of my life, my friends and hope that Trip can forgive me for causing his lover's death. I suddenly have an idea, that as Captain I should forfeit my life so that Malcolm can live his. I tell our captors that he is my tactical officer and that he can give them any information they want. I know T'Pol is probably planning a rescue mission and I just need to buy him some time. After what I've learnt about him, I owe him that much. To live a life so bleak as Malcolm has done, always criticised and berated for every achievement. Not even allowed to have a favourite food as a child and then to have happiness, friendship and love given to him and then snatched away so suddenly by frightened people on an alien world. I have to try to give him a chance, for his sake and for Trip's.

The aliens don't want to know and I try to put myself in their place as we are led up the steps and the noose is put around my neck. I watch Malcolm as they do the same to him, and suddenly feel immensely proud of him. Apart from his 'Captain' at my attempt to save him, he hasn't said a word, and I know he isn't going to show his fear, I would expect no less of him. He will die with the dignity of a Starfleet Officer, but I wish he didn't have to. I know it will be soon and I pray that it will be quick as the dust in the compound suddenly swirls around. The guards look confused and I see an arm firing a phase pistol and then I see Trip, leaping out of thin air and I know we are saved.

As we huddle in the small pod, I look up at Trip who has the same relieved expression on his face as I have. I suddenly think I've lost something and rummage through my pockets.

"Sir, looking for this?" I hear Malcolm say and he holds up the scanner I thought I'd lost and smiles.

I look at that smile and realise that I never thought I would see it again. This time it was a close call and I've learnt some valuable lessons. As I glance around at Travis, Malcolm, T'Pol and Trip, I notice Malcolm look at his lover. I know that later there will probably be nightmares and tears but I know that while Malcolm has Trip there will also be smiles and even laughter.

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