Title: Turmoil of Love

Author: Snorkler318

Author's e-mail: Snorkler318@aol.com

Date: 05/05/03

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity, others please ask so as I know where it is going.

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: R

Status: Complete, 6 parts

Pairing: Archer/Tucker, Tucker/Reed, Reed/?

Main character(s): Archer, Tucker, Reed

Summary: An alien claims a mate…but what if they're already loved?

Warnings: Graphic Violence. Angst.

Series: none

Sequel to: none

Beta: My favorite baby girl Sue Duenn

Spoilers: none

Disclaimer: Star Trek belongs to Berman & Braga and Paramount. I get nothing, but some fun.

Author's notes: Would like to say a huge thanks to Sue D. for the Beta and comments and for helping me through this long fic. If anyone wishes to give some feedback and some constructive criticism, I welcome it.


There was sunlight all around Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker as he walked through a lush forest of beautiful, luxurious evergreen trees that stood as tall and proud as any he had ever seen. The forest reminded him of the Great Redwoods National Park in California, where he had once visited while attending the Academy. These large trees were nothing like the magnificent Redwoods, but no less glorious in their own right. Sunlight pierced through the canopy of the new forest, casting golden rays of light that seemed to magnify their intensity within the dense fog that was covering the ground. It made the forest appear to be growing up from clouds. Trip wondered why he hadn't brought his camera with him. He'd always brought it before on away trips, but he forgot to do so this one time, when he was in such an unbelievable place.

Walking through the beautiful scenic forest, Trip took notice of the different species of animals and birds that skirted by as he made his way forward. It dawned on him that he had no earthly idea where or why he was here. He then wondered why he didn't seem concerned in the least as to his potentially dangerous predicament, but shrugged and continued with his walk. He caught a glimpse of a person up ahead but was unable to make out anything but a silhouette of a humanoid through the dense fog. "Maybe that person up ahead can tell me where I am," Trip thought to himself as he stepped up his pace toward the person.

As Trip drew closer to the silhouette ahead of him, he thought the fog was somehow denser than before. He thought it was just his mind playing tricks, so Trip dismissed the observation and continued toward silhouette on the path ahead of him who seemed to be waiting for his arrival. Trip drew nearer, and he could barely make out that the person was human like him. He figured that he must have known he wasn't alone on this planet, therefore his earlier lack of concern must have been due to that. "It must be another part of the away team," Trip thought. He quickened his steps further, wanting to finally hear another human voice.

He noticed that the forest was awfully quiet, even with all the animals he had noticed before as he was walking. Returning his attention back to the path, he could barely see in front of him due to all the fog. When had it become so thick? Trip moved forward toward the barely visible shape of the unmoving humanoid figure and decided to call out to him.

When he did, the person turned and the fog briefly thinned. A ray of sunlight illuminated the silhouette just long enough that Trip was able to identify the shadowy figure. "Cap'n?" Trip said questioningly. Captain Jonathan Archer of the Earth Starship Enterprise, and Trip's best friend, looked directly at Trip and gave him a smile so brilliant that Trip found it heavenly. Trip gasped as he stared at his best friend who had golden rays of sunlight casting a saintly glow all around him. Trip whispered, "You're beautiful, Jon."

Trip's eyes flung open and he looked around at his surroundings. He was in his quarters on Enterprise. It was just a dream, another vivid unexplainable dream of the Captain. Feeling someone move beside him in the bed, Trip tensed as he slowly turned his head and looked at the sleeping form next to him. Letting out a sigh of relief to discover that it was only Malcolm and not Jon, Trip relaxed somewhat and tried to understand what the dream meant. The dream had been the third one just this week and each one was getting more vivid and the Captain was getting more and more beautiful each time. "What the hell is happening to me?" Trip thought to himself. Should he go see the doctor and have Phlox check him out just to make sure he hadn't contracted some weird alien bacteria or something that makes humans dream about their Captains?


Lieutenant Malcolm Reed smiled at his lover as he watched him sleep. Trip always did look most beautiful when he was asleep, Malcolm thought. Tucker's face was almost angelic as he slept; his short dark golden hair creating a halo around his head on the pillow. Yes, Malcolm thought to himself, he was a lucky man to have the Commander as his lover. Standing up and straightening his uniform, Malcolm leaned down and touched his lover's lips with his own and then turned and walked out of their quarters on his way toward the mess hall for some breakfast before his shift.


Trip Tucker felt like his body was lead. Everything he did seemed like he was doing it in slow motion. This frustrated the Chief Engineer. He liked to get things done quickly, and now it seemed that his crew was running circles around him and he was just in their way.

The Beta shift appeared to relieve Alpha shift and Trip was happy to see them come. Briefing the oncoming shift their duties he dismissed himself and thought about heading to his quarters and going to sleep, but his stomach reminded him that it was hungry and he would not be getting any sleep if it remained empty. Changing course to the mess hall, Trip was met by Malcolm who promptly gave him a quick kiss and both men walked to the mess hall together.

"Why do you look so tired lately, Trip?" Malcolm asked as they gathered their food onto their trays. "Haven't you been sleeping well?"

"Just having some strange dreams that is all and messing up my sleep," Trip replied, not wanting to go into detail of what kind of dreams he was having. "Nothing to get worried over though."

"Well as long as you're sure," Malcolm said as he picked up a pineapple salad and placed it on his tray. "Listen, I am going to go and meet some of the crew for a card game later tonight. You look pretty tired, so why don't you go catch up on some sleep?" There was a moment's pause before he added, "That is, if you don't want to come along with me?"

Trip stared at him as they sat down at a table and then replied, "No I would rather just go on back to our quarters and sleep until tomorrow. You go ahead." He received a smile from Malcolm and then watched him start to eat before turning to his own plate to eat his own food.


Enterprise sat in orbit around an M class planet in the Reprog system. The planet was called Gorlian, and the crew of Enterprise was to spend some well-deserved shore leave on its surface. Archer had already met with the governing Chancellor of the people who invited him and his crew to come down and enjoy their people's hospitality. As always, not everyone could enjoy every shore leave. The group that was unable to go on the last shore leave was nominated to go this time around. The shuttles had already started to transport people down to the surface and the only ones that were left were Archer, Porthos, Trip, Malcolm and Rostov, who would be piloting the shuttle down.

Everyone was at the shuttle all except Malcolm, and Trip was wondering where he was when finally Malcolm showed up still in uniform. "Why aren't you ready to go down? We're waiting on you Mal so hurry up and change." Trip said in a slightly aggravated voice. Lately Malcolm had been working late or going to card games, and he had not been able to spend much time with his lover. He thought this shore leave would give them some time to spend uninterrupted.

"Sorry Trip, I'm not going to go this time. I really need to work on those upgrades to the weapons array," Malcolm replied as he quickly kissed Trip before turning to the Captain. "The Weapons Array has been having several small problems and I thought I should stay aboard to see to the repairs."

"There are others aboard that will be able to do the repairs, Malcolm. You should come along. You and Trip could use the time away from the ship to have some quality time to yourselves," Archer replied, trying to convince the Armory Officer to join them on shore leave.

"Malcolm, come on, listen to the Captain. We have two whole days of just us. Some quality time, which we haven't been getting much of lately with you always working late, or playing cards," Trip said as he tried to use his most sorrowful look to help convince Malcolm to come along.

"I would rather oversee the repairs myself so I know that they are in top working order. You both have a splendid time. And now, if you will excuse me, I would like to start on those repairs," Malcolm replied as he stepped forward and kissed Trip again. "Bye and be careful." Turning on his heel, Malcolm left both men standing there looking after him, one man's heart filled with disappointment and the other trying hard not to mistrust his Armory Officer.


The journey down to the planet was uneventful and quiet. Trip was brooding about Malcolm refusing to join them and Jon didn't seem to know what to do to help make his friend feel better. Jon thought it better to allow Trip to have some privacy, so he and Porthos sat near the front while Trip occupied the back.

Rostov landed the shuttle and all four occupants exited the shuttle to take in the sights that the planet had to offer. Archer put down Porthos and then attached his leash and soon the three men and Porthos were on their way toward their respective accommodations.


Back on Enterprise, Malcolm quickly finished the few upgrades that he had to do on the Weapons Array and then stored his tools in the locker. He exited the Armory and made his way to the mess hall where he figured he would have some food and some fine spirits.

Upon entering the mess hall, Malcolm quickly glanced around and took notice of Ensign Hoshi Sato sitting at one table alone and Ensign Mayweather sitting alone at another table across the room glaring at Hoshi, who glared back. Chuckling to himself, Malcolm knew the usually two good friends had a disagreement over a card game which each one accused the other of cheating and at the moment, they refused to speak to each other. Looking around the mess hall, Malcolm made his choice of seats and then moved to go and retrieve himself a bowl of pineapple slices and a glass of ale and then made his way to his chosen seat.

Sitting down, Malcolm looked at his tablemate, giving them a brilliant smile. "Miss me?" Malcolm asked as he took a piece of pineapple and bit into the tart fruit.

"Yes, and I'm glad you decided to stay aboard." Malcolm's dinner companion smiled back, dark eyes meeting gray in unspoken lust.

"I couldn't leave my lovely playmate alone for two nights now could I?" Malcolm replied as he finished his fruit and then said, "Hopefully you plan on making tonight a very passionate one. You know I am becoming addicted to that sweet mouth of yours. Why don't we leave this place and retire to someplace more comfortable?" Both sets of eyes met each other and then they stood up and walked together out of the mess hall, making their way to Malcolm and Trip's quarters.

Inside, Malcolm immediately shoved his lover up against the closed door and hungrily kissed that luscious mouth as his hands roamed and explored the curves of his lover's beautiful body. "I am going to ravish that sexy body of yours all night and then tomorrow as well." Malcolm breathed heavily in his lover's ear as he gently nibbled it and caressed it with his tongue. "I fancy you and me in the shower and soaping each other up and having our bodies sliding together. Care to join me for some good wet clean fun?" Malcolm asked as he watched his lover nod and lead the way to the bathroom.


Jon set two mugs of Caldor Ale onto the table and sat himself down opposite his best friend. Trip had stopped brooding and was now chatting away thanks to three glasses of the Ale. Trip was feeling no pain, but did not seem too drunk to become belligerent. They both danced with other crewmembers that had showed up at the small club and they even danced with each other a time or two. One time, they were wrapped up in dancing on the very crowded dance floor to some upbeat music, and when it changed to some slow music it seemed that everyone stayed on the dance floor to dance to the slow song. Both men decided not to fight their way through the large crowd and just join the rest of the crowd and dance along with the slow music.

Trip's body was feeling fine as it moved against Jon's to the slow rhythmic melody. The feel of Jon's body was making Trip's body hunger for contact and unconsciously; Trip answered the hunger and moved closer to his best friend and wrapped his arms around Jon's shoulders and buried his face into Jon's neck.


Malcolm licked his way down his lover's smooth throat, down over the middle soft chest bone and continued his slow torturous journey over the supple stomach to his ultimate prize where he lovingly paid tribute to his lover's sex. The throaty moans that emanated from his lover only spurred Malcolm to work harder at bringing his sexy companion to fulfillment.


Trip and Jon decided to leave the club and walk back to their rooms a few blocks away in hopes that it would help clear their heads. In Trip's relaxed and slightly intoxicated mood, he hung onto Jon for support and with this closeness, his senses were inundated with Jon's masculine smell. The spicy smell that was the essence of his best friend made Trip's body take notice and as they neared their rooms; Trip's body was demanding some body contact.

*** "Yes, that's the way. Your wonderful mouth feels so good. All the way down, suck a bit harder. Yeah- oh! Yeah baby that's it. Great mouth you have." Malcolm moaned his excitement as he laid there with himself fully embedded in his lover's throat. Feeling the muscles contract around his phallus caused ripples and waves of pleasure spread throughout his body.


Jon and Trip came to Trip's room first and Jon was about to tell Trip goodnight when Trip spoke first, "Come in and have a drink, Jon. I'm not tired yet and would like it if you'd talk with me a bit…if you're not too tired that is."

Jon actually was feeling a little tired and light headed from the ale they had consumed, but the look Trip was giving him made him give in. "Sure. Just for a little while though," Jon said and was rewarded with a brilliant smile from his best friend as he followed him into the room.

Once inside, Trip went to get some glasses and poured them some water. "I don't have any alcohol, so water is going to have to do for now. Guess they don't stock these rooms with any booze so the guests won't tear up the place with wild parties," Trip said as he handed the glass to Jon and picked up the other for himself.

"What is it you want to talk about, Trip?" Jon asked as he took a sip of the water, hoping that Trip would confide in him enough to explain why he has been looking tired this last week. As his best friend, Jon did not feel it was his business what went on between Trip and Malcolm privately, but it was his business if what was causing his friend sleepless nights started to affect his work performance. So far that was not the case, so therefore he was going to remain silent or until Trip decided he would confide in him. Then looking at his best friend he said, "You know that I'm here for you whenever you need a good ear or a shoulder whenever you need one."

"Thanks Jon, I really appreciate that," Trip answered with a warm smile and then looked down at the floor. Taking several breaths he looked back at Jon and asked, "I guess I am pretty bummed out that Mal decided to stay aboard, and I am sort of lonely and would like the company."

"Well I'm not that great of company, but I guess I can try and keep you entertained for the duration of our furlough. That is, if you have no objections," Jon said as he tried to lighten up the sudden somber mood that gathered throughout the room.

Trip responded with a wave of his hand. "Jon, you are my best friend and I don't think I would want anyone other than Mal to keep me company when I'm feeling lonely." Taking a drink from the glass he held, Trip continued. "I'm kind of worried about Malcolm, Jon. He has been working long hours and if he isn't working he is spending time playing cards or some other game with other crewmembers. It's really rare I get to spend time with him anymore." Gazing into his glass, Trip felt the tears sting his eyes. "This furlough was a chance for us to spend some uninterrupted quality time together and have our first year anniversary away from the ship."

"Anniversary?" Jon asked in bewilderment.

"Yeah." Trip gave a half smile that failed to put the glint in his blue eyes that Jon had come to recognize through all the years that he had known Trip. "Our anniversary is tomorrow and I came down here in hopes that he would remember and come down to spend it with me."

Jon was shocked to learn this piece of information, and thought to himself how he could help his best friend out. Looking away from Trip, his mind raced with suggestions. He stood up and looked out of the window of Trip's room and stared at the stars. As Jon gazed at the stars a thought formed in his head and took root. Smiling to himself, Jon spun around and walked to Trip. "I am going to bed now Trip. Get some sleep yourself and I will see you tomorrow. Sorry I can't stay and talk any longer, but if I don't leave now you will be sharing that bed with your best friend." Jon gave Trip an affectionate squeeze on the shoulder and then left Trip alone.

Trip watched Jon leave and couldn't help but feel a deep loneliness once his friend had disappeared out the door. Sighing heavily, Trip laid himself on the bed and thought of Malcolm and wished he were here to cuddle up next to. Thinking of the loneliness he felt, Trip finally allowed sleep to claim him.

Jon entered his room and quickly packed his bag that he brought with him and leashed Porthos. Taking his communicator out, he called for Rostov, and after several attempts, Rostov finally answered in a sleepy voice. "Rostov, I'm sorry to wake you, but something has come up and I need to get back to Enterprise. Meet me outside by the shuttle in ten minutes."

Ensign Michael Rostov dressed quickly and used the facilities before leaving his room. When he arrived at the docking bay just a few minutes from where the crew was staying, the Captain had yet to arrive. Rostov opened the hatch to the shuttle pod and decided that he would power up the shuttle while he waited for the Captain. Entering the shuttle, Rostov slipped into the pilot's chair and tapped the controls to power up the shuttle. Hearing a sound behind him he turned to see the Captain and his beloved dog enter the craft.

Jon arrived at the docking area of the city and immediately noticed the shuttle's hatch was open and already powering up. Smiling to himself, Jon was relieved that Rostov was so efficient and that was one of the reasons that he found himself liking the younger man. Porthos led Jon the remaining distance to the shuttle and was the first to enter, quickly followed by Jon. Both were greeted by Rostov and briefed that they will be ready to lift off shortly.


"Oh bloody hell!" Malcolm cried out as another wave of pleasure seized him. "You're being unfair. Stop teasing me and move those lovely hips." He started to thrust with his hips, trying to bury himself more deeply in the tightness and warmth of his lover. The position did not much give him control over his situation with his lover straddling his hips. The position was pure bliss to him as he loved and hated the sweet torture it caused him. His brain had stopped functioning altogether as his body switched to automatic as it sought out its own fulfillment. Grabbing his lover's hips, Malcolm started to thrust with a vengeance and helped his lover to find a rhythm that they both found most pleasurable. The lovers were soon caught up in the throes of finally finding the ultimate goal to their passions and rode the waves to fulfillment.


Jon stepped out of the shuttle pod and turned to Rostov and said, "Don't bother shutting down the shuttle. You'll be heading back down to the surface here shortly with Lieutenant Reed. Thank you Michael, and I'm sorry to have woken you so early, but once you're back down on the planet, I hope you enjoy the rest of your time off." Turning on his heel, Jon walked out of the Shuttle Bay and headed for Malcolm and Trip's quarters.

Malcolm kissed his lover passionately as they embraced. He had not bothered to dress, but did put on a pair of briefs while his lover had dressed completely and readied to leave his quarters. Hitting the release for the door, Malcolm, still holding his lover in his arms, let the door slide open as Malcolm kissed his lover again and said, "Thank you for a lovely time tonight."

"You're welcome, see you same time tomorrow?" His lover asked, igniting a new passion in Malcolm.

"No he will not." The voice of the Captain was like an icy winter wind blowing across Malcolm and his lover. Both turned to stare at a very angry Captain Archer. "Captain." The couple in the doorway said in unison as they separated and stood uneasily in front of their captain. Both unconsciously stood at attention as if they were waiting for the Captain's inspection of the room or their uniforms.

Jon glared at the couple as both stood rigidly as they gazed back at him. The shock at finding Malcolm in a heated embrace, passionately kissing his Communication Officer was now turning to anger at the realization of what it all meant. Turning his glare toward his Armory Officer, Jon had to work to keeping from yelling at Malcolm or just pounding him with his fists. "I assume that you have finished with those upgrades, Lieutenant." Archer had to force his voice to remain emotionless as he continued. "Since it seems that you are bored and have some free time on your hands, I think there is someone down on the surface who would truly enjoy seeing you. Rostov is waiting to take you down to the surface in shuttlepod two. Don't keep him waiting long." Turning his attention to his Linguistics Officer, Jon felt unable to look at her. The disappointment was evident in his voice as he spoke, "Hoshi, I will suggest that you and I should leave now so Malcolm can get himself ready."

Ensign Hoshi Sato felt so many emotions course through her body that she was unable to pinpoint them all, let alone identify the ones flitting through the Captain's eyes. When she looked at the Captain, there was one emotion that she could identify in him, and she hated it. That emotion was shame. She knew he thought the world of her and thought of her as almost a daughter, but now she only saw the disappointment in his hazel eyes and could almost read his thoughts clearly. He thought she was a disgrace to the uniform, and somehow that made her mad, but not at him. Hoshi was mad at herself and Malcolm for giving into their basic desires and shaming Starfleet and their friends. Mentally chastising herself, Hoshi collected her composure the best she could and said, "Very well sir." Walking to the door and stopping only to give a quick glance back to Malcolm and followed the Captain down the corridor.

Both the Captain and Hoshi walked down the corridor, neither one of them saying a word to each other. The silence was broken when Jon said, "I'll go and tell Rostov that the Lieutenant will be ready shortly." Hoshi noticed that he refused to look in her direction and the guilt filled her every being.

"I'll just go to my quarters then, sir," replied Hoshi as she watched the Captain disappear around the bend of the corridor. She had to stop for fear she was going to run to the Captain and tell him she was sorry for what she done and that it would not happen again. But knowing the Captain, he would only tell her that she should be apologizing to Trip and not him, which was the truth. The thought of Trip and what Malcolm meant to Trip made her feel a new wave of guilt, but this time the emotion seemed to slam into her, making her unable to breathe. She had betrayed the trust of her friends and now she had to somehow make amends.


Malcolm felt uneasy as he walked to the door of the room that Rostov told him that Trip was staying in. He wouldn't be here if the Captain hadn't decided to come back early and check up on him. The reason why the Captain had cut his shore leave short was still a mystery to him and now he was here only because the Captain had decided to pay him a visit. Sighing to himself, Malcolm knocked on the door and waited for Trip to answer. In the mean time, he would compose his emotions so that they did not show on his face when Trip saw him standing there. The constant effort of hiding his emotions had become easy for Malcolm; he had practiced it constantly, even more so since he had taken other lovers while still with Trip. In his heart he knew that he cared for Trip and he guessed he loved him to a certain extent, but he also knew that he wasn't completely in love with him like he should be or like Trip expected him to be. Maybe he was just too jaded from his life experiences to really be able to love anyone person fully.

Trip was lying on his side in bed, as he seemed to be floating between sleep and wakefulness. Every part of his body seemed to be so relaxed that Trip found himself really enjoying his forty winks. He thought he felt the bed move, but was so comfortable that he ignored the slight disturbance, and continued with his dozing until he was sure he felt another body press up against his. Tucker, unable to ignore the annoyance any longer, turned onto his back to see what or who was causing the commotion, rudely pulling him from his siesta.


//Everything seemed to be so distant as Trip turned on his back to investigate the unwanted disturbance. Turning his head, Trip noticed first the touch against his face and slide downward over his throat, across his chest to seek out his right nipple and gave it a gentle tweak causing him to gasp. Tucker's gaze searched for the face of his intruder through the haze that seemed to be affecting his sight. The tormenting hand continued downward from his nipple and traveled to his stomach until the fingers found his navel and thoroughly tormented Trip. The hazy cloud seemed to dissipate just enough for Trip to finally get a look at the intruder just as he notice the interloper's lips coming down to meet his for a kiss. The recognition of his intruder's identity seemed not to distress Trip, but cause him an intense desire. He found himself wanting the kiss and more from this man and he looked at those hazel eyes and whispered, "Jon." //

Malcolm knocked again only harder this time. If Trip was here, he must be asleep, and Malcolm knew how hard Trip slept so he knocked more forcefully, hoping not to disturb other guests in the adjoining rooms. The anxiety welled up in Malcolm, as he knew that all his knocking was bound to cause a disturbance in this early morning hour. He found himself becoming annoyed at Trip's sleeping habits, and was seriously thinking of leaving for a time and return later, but he did not know where to go and at this hour there was probably not much open.

//Jon's lips were about to meet his when in the background, sounded a loud banging causing Jon to disappear and Trip groaned as he opened his eyes as the haziness disappeared completely//. Looking around at his surroundings, Trip removed his hand from his belly and sat up in his bed trying to regain his thoughts and to collect his emotions. Another damn dream, he cursed himself as he heard the loud banging coming from the door. Getting up, Trip was angry at his traitorous dreams and the rude intrusion of the banging from the door. Stalking to the door, he angrily yanked it open to confront the moron that had woken him up, only to be confronted with an equally pissed Malcolm.

Malcolm was about to give the locked door another resounding beating when suddenly the door flew open to reveal a disgruntled Trip. "About bloody time you woke up," snapped Malcolm as he forcefully brushed his way past Trip. "I have been pounding on that door for the past ten minutes. Bloody well may have woken up the whole building just trying to get your lazy arse up out of bed." The anger in Malcolm just boiled over and he vented it on Trip.

Upon seeing Malcolm at his door, Trip's anger fled and was immediately replaced by pure enjoyment at the thought that Mal had not forgotten and that he had come down to spend their anniversary together. Trip's heart did a flutter and he ignored the Brit's tirade, and launched himself into Malcolm who automatically grabbed Trip for support for fear he would topple over from Trip's body impacting into his.

"I knew you wouldn't forget. Thanks for coming down, Mal," Trip exclaimed as he pulled away slightly and went to kiss Malcolm.

Malcolm, perplexed by Trip's words and then when Trip kissed him, Malcolm smiled and asked, "What is all this about? I was told that you would like to spend some time with me and so I am here, but I didn't expect this kind of reception."

Pulling away from Malcolm slightly, Trip looked quizzically at his lover and asked, "Yes I want to spend time with you, but didn't you come down here on your own?"

"You knew I had the upgrades to do on the weapon's array," Malcolm lied as he looked at Trip. "The Captain came back to the ship and told me that I should come down to spend the remainder of the furlough with you." Malcolm looked at Trip and noticed the somber look his lover had and was puzzled at the pitiful look upon Trip's face. It made Malcolm ask, "Why are you so glum? Thought you wanted me here with you and now that you have me, you are acting depressed."

"Did the Captain tell you why he sent you down here?" Trip asked, looking at Malcolm and studying his face.

"No, was he supposed to?" Malcolm asked as he looked away from Trip's stare.

Trip only shook his head and said, "No. I was just thinking he might have said something. It's not important." The pain in his heart was almost overwhelming. Looking at Malcolm he asked, "Do you know why I wanted to spend some time alone with you away from the ship?"

"Not exactly, no I don't. Well since I am here would you like to go out and get something to eat?" Malcolm asked as he felt the need to change the subject. "I'm famished."

"He doesn't remember that today is our anniversary," Trip thought to himself and he thought he should feel anger, but for some reason he didn't. The only thing he felt was disappointment over the reality of what their anniversary would be like compared to what he had envisioned. "Sure Mal. You know me I am always up for some grub," Trip said with his best smile and went to the bathroom to get a quick shower.


Jon sat in his chair on the bridge looking over a report when Hoshi spoke up. "Sir, the Governing Chancellor is hailing us from the planet."

"On screen," Archer replied as he put down his report and stood up from his chair. The image of the Chancellor appeared on the view screen and Archer greeted him and asked, "Chancellor, what can we do for you?"

The Chancellor smiled and returned the greeting. "Thank you, Captain Archer. I am sorry to disturb you and your crew, but there has been a small problem that has arose here in our city and hoped that you may be able to help us?"

"Is there a problem with one of my crew that is on your planet?" Archer asked, worried about one of his crewmen was causing trouble on an alien planet.

"Nothing of the kind I assure you Captain. Your people have been very respectful on our planet," the Chancellor assured Archer. "I was hoping that you could help us with another guest of ours, she's the Imperial Princess, Jara of the Kalahari system."

Archer looked at the image of the Chancellor and asked, "What help could we offer?"

"It seems that her Highness is in need to leave our planet due to an untimely emergency on her planet, but her transport is not able to make it here any sooner than another seven cycles of our suns," replied the Chancellor. "I believe your travels will be taking you near her system and I would like to humbly ask for you and your people's assistance on her behalf."

"I would like to help the Princess, but I do need to know where exactly where the Kalahari system is, exactly," Archer responded. "If I may also ask, will we be able to meet with her before the trip?"

"By all means Captain. I understand that you would most definitely wish to meet with her Highness. I will speak with her Highness Jara about meeting with you, and I will transmit the destination coordinates to you momentarily." The Chancellor replied politely and then said, "I will be in touch with you as soon as I speak with the Princess Jara again. Thank you, Captain, for your time."

"You're quite welcome and I hope that we will be able to help." The transmission ended and Archer immediately turned to his Science Officer and asked, "When they transmit the alien's destination coordinates, please find out if the Chancellor's people are able to use their own ships to transport Princess Jara to us." Walking to his ready room, Archer pressed the button and said, "I'll be in my ready room. You have the bridge."


Malcolm and Trip's anniversary consisted of a day of exploring the shops and grabbing something to eat and then visiting the city's museums and historical sites. All in all, Trip was bored and nothing was going as he had planned. He had not even been able to get Malcolm alone all day and after several innuendoes coming just short of point blank asking that they go back to the room and have wild sex. Trip gave up trying and just tried to enjoy the day. Thinking to himself, Trip considered him lucky that he and Malcolm were finally spending some quality time together, although it took Jon interfering to make that happen.

Both Malcolm and Trip came back to their room later that evening and took separate showers. They hardly spoke while they readied themselves for bed and once in bed neither talked and soon both were turned facing opposite walls with not only a distance between them in the bed, but a widening chasm forming emotionally between the two lovers.


Archer looked over the coordinates of Princess Jara's destination. T'Pol had explained to him that the Chancellor's people only had short range transport and were unable to accommodate the alien female with transport to her destination. He was waiting to hear from the Chancellor to tell him that they would offer to help the Princess to her destination.

"Captain, we are being hailed from the planet surface. It is the Chancellor." Hoshi said.

"On screen," Archer stated and soon was looking at the image of the Chancellor.

"Good evening Captain. I assume you received the transmission of the coordinates in a timely manner?" The Chancellor inquired.

"Yes we have and I'm happy to say that we will be able to provide transport for the Imperial Princess Jara." Archer replied and continued, "I would like to meet with you and the Princess if you have no objections?"

"Not at all, Captain. When would you care to arrange the meeting?" The Chancellor answered.

"Would tomorrow morning at 0900 be sufficient?" Archer inquired.

The Chancellor gave a smile and replied, "I will inform her of the time. We could have the meeting over some morning meal if you wish."

"I will appreciate that, thank you Chancellor. We will be coming to collect our own crewmembers also so this will arrange nicely with our meeting." Archer answered.

"Thank you Captain. I look forward to your arrival tomorrow." The Chancellor said and then the view screen went black again.


Archer thought of what the Imperial Princess, Jara would look like as he had shuttled down to the planet's surface to be greeted by the Chancellor. The Chancellor escorted Archer to the main government building in the city and guided him to a small, but elaborately decorated room where he finally got his first look at the Imperial Princess, Jara.

The room was silent as both Archer and the Princess studied each other. Archer took in the alien female's difference to his own species as well as the Princess seemed to be doing the same. Both were fascinated by the dissimilarities.

"Captain Archer, may I present you to the Imperial Princess, Jara of the Kalahari system." The Chancellor broke the silence as he made the introductions.

The Princess bowed slightly and offered her hand to the Captain as she studied the man up close. "He's better looking up close than I had imagined," Jara thought to herself as she continued to study this Captain Archer.

The Chancellor then again spoke up. "Your Highness, may I present you to Captain Jonathan Archer."

"A pleasure, your Highness," Archer remarked as he took the proffered hand of the Princess and slightly bowed over it. Looking up again, Archer released Jara's hand and made his own assessment of the Imperial Highness. "She looks like she could use a good suntan," he mused to himself.

Jon could hear the Chancellor speaking, but didn't pay much attention to what the government man was saying; he was busy studying the Princess's impressive features. The Imperial Princess Jara was garbed in long heavy looking fabrics that looked like an alien version of silk. The garment was of a blue-gray color, which set off her skin tone or the lack of depending on your beliefs and species. Jara's skin was a milky color with just a hint of gray to it, which gave the impression of smoke. Archer looked at her eyes and was amazed at their color or lack thereof. Her eyes were of no particular color, but if you needed to classify the color, maybe the color of ice. Ice that had no blues in it, but maybe a hint of yellowish gray. Those eyes, it seemed, were like glass. They were void of color and one would be hard pressed not to look closely to see if they could look through the orbs to see inside the Imperial Princess's head.

Mentally shaking his head to control his rambling thoughts, Archer returned to assess the rest of the Princess's features. Her face was smooth and almost absent of a nose, save for a slight bump in the middle of her face with two slits in it. Then, there were the obvious eyes that intrigued him so and he noticed how those eyes were shaped by her face. There was a definite downward slant to them, making them appear upside down. Jon's attention then traveled to Jara's mouth and noticed the absence of lips. His gaze wandered to take in her complete facial features and soon noticed that her forehead was elongated and her cheekbones were set high and very prominent as compared to a human. She wore a headdress of the same material as her dress, but it was adorned with a very large crystal and embedded with metal. The same metal circled the headdress in several different patterns, and gave Archer the impression that it was a tiara or a crown, definitely something that showed her royal status.

During this moment as Archer studied the Princess, the Princess Jara herself was studying the Captain as well. Though Archer had no way of knowing that Jara had already studied him earlier while he was down on the planet, she studied him now in a manner other than curiosity: Jara studied the Captain as a potential mate.

Again, the Chancellor interrupted the silence as he spoke up. "May we all go to the table and have a morning meal and take this opportunity for you two to get to know each other somewhat and discuss travel arrangements?" The small party then went to the table in the middle of the elaborate room and took their seats. ***

Trip listened to Malcolm's low humming and from where he sat on the bed, could see his lover in the bathroom as he shaved. This morning when they woke up, Trip had looked at Malcolm and was shocked at what had crossed his mind. In his mind, Trip wished he were watching Jon shave instead of Malcolm, which caused him to admonish himself immediately for his traitorous thoughts. His thoughts were just overly active due to his dreams and Trip just had to maybe commit himself harder to his and Malcolm's relationship if this kept up.

The two men packed in silence and then walked together to the shuttle where they were to meet up with the other crewmembers and return to the ship. Both of the shuttles had already arrived when Malcolm and Trip showed up, and a few of the crewmen had already started to pile into them. Trip looked around and noticed the Captain talking with a strange alien with a pale complexion and strange eyes. This surprised him because he remembered Malcolm telling him that Jon had returned to the ship and had requested that he come down to spend some time with Trip. He turned to Malcolm and asked, "I thought that you told me that the Captain had returned to the ship, yet he is over there by shuttle pod one?"

Malcolm looked at Trip confusedly and then looked in the direction of the shuttle pod and eyed the Captain and the alien female. "He was on the ship. Guess he came back down for some reason." Malcolm replied in a matter of fact way that seemed irritated at Trip for no apparent reason.

Trip ignored Malcolm and walked in the direction of the Captain, with Malcolm following. The Captain was in a conversation with the alien and Trip guessed that he had caught a glance of him coming in his peripheral view, because he turned his head and smiled at Trip on his approach. A sense of déjà vu hit Trip in the pit of his stomach and he immediately recognized it as one of his dreams he had before. He felt himself slightly blush when his mind took that opportunity to remind him of all the other more vivid dreams he had of the Captain, specially the one with the Captain fresh from the shower. The blush seemed to heat up and Trip admonished himself for his thoughts and quickly forced his thoughts to whom the Captain was talking with. Trip felt his smile fade into a frown as the Captain's eyes left Trip's and looked just past him. Confused at the sudden change in the Captain, Trip looked over his shoulder to glance at Malcolm, who was looking everywhere but at the Captain. Shrugging off the odd behavior between the two men, Trip closed the distance between himself and Jon.

Archer noticed Trip's arrival while talking with Princess Jara and stopped speaking long enough to turn and give Trip a smile in greeting. As he did that, he could not help the sudden adverse feelings that welled up inside of him at the sight of Malcolm taking up the rear behind Trip. Forcing himself into a professional attitude, Jon turned back to the Princess and said, "I would like to introduce you to two of my Senior officers if I may." Reaching out and putting his hand on Trip's shoulder as the Commander came to a stop beside him, Jon continued, "This is my Chief Engineer, Charles Tucker the third, but we all call him Trip for short." Then after a brief pause, Jon turned his attention to Malcolm who had come to stand on his other side and as he did Trip, Jon put his hand on his shoulder, but immediately felt the Lieutenant slightly pull away from him. Jon squeezed gently to discourage any further actions from Malcolm as he introduced him. "This here is my Armory Officer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed." Archer then put his other hand upon Trip's shoulder again and said, "Commander and Lieutenant, may I introduce you to our new guest aboard Enterprise, Imperial Princess Jara of the Kalahari system." Both men turned to look at their Captain in surprise, but then regained their composure quickly and formally greeted the Princess.


"Both our peoples seem to share the same trait of curiosity, Captain." Jara commented as she took a sip of the beverage that accompanied the dinner that they were enjoying at this moment. Though she would have enjoyed it more if that Vulcan female were not present. "My people too enjoy exploring and meeting new cultures of peoples." The Captain was polite and very handsome, but she sensed that his emotions were loyal to someone else on this ship. A flash of deep anger welled up inside her and she could feel the change start inside. Quickly she closed her eyes and chanted to herself, trying to calm the emotions that were threatening to trigger the change. It would not work in her favor if the Captain were to see her other side this early. She must first win his affections before that happened.

Jara felt herself relax inside, and once satisfied that her emotions were in control, she opened her eyes to notice the Captain and the Sub-Commander looking at her strangely. Smiling to them both, she quickly said, "My people do a little chant, for gratitude to those who show us friendship. I thought I would do one while I felt the emotion so strongly so the chant would help our spirit take it directly to the deity Lagiel to hear it directly, that way he will give you blessings." The lie seemed to appease them and Jara relaxed even more.

The dinner was a very informative affair for Jara. These humans were a very curious race and she found them immensely intriguing. That may very well be due to the fact that she had chosen their Captain for her mate, but she knew that she did not like that Vulcan. Her species was hard to read with her empathic abilities. There were no emotions coming from her that she could sense at all, unlike the humans that she could tell what everyone was sensing or thinking, only she could not know what about. Jara did not like this T'Pol one bit. She very well could complicate things. The other person that was at the table was the Chief Engineer whom everyone called Trip. This man seemed very close to the Captain, which just added another thing that was threatening to complicate her plans. She was becoming frustrated at knowing she would have problems with these two because of their loyalty to the Captain. Another thing worried Jara. That was the fact that she sensed the Captain had feelings for another, which made her try to figure out who the Captain's emotions were reserved for. Unlike true empaths that can hear people's thoughts directly, she and her people could only sense them. They could not hear actual vivid thoughts or actual voices in their heads.

Looking at the Vulcan and then the Captain, Jara concentrated fiercely to try to figure if this T'Pol was the one that held her chosen mate's emotions, but she felt no strong emotional connection, only that of a deep liking and trust from the Captain. Jara's attention turned to the Chief Engineer and concentrated on his thoughts. There, Jara was overwhelmed with grief and tumultuous feelings. This was starting to give her a headache and she abandoned her attempts to read his emotions. There was someone on this ship that held her mate's emotions and she was determined to find out who it was, even if it meant coming into contact with each one of the crewmembers to do it. Once she did find out she would have to find some way of countering their hold on her mate. If, though, she were unable to break that emotional hold on the Captain, then she would have no choice but to eliminate the threat.

"Was your dinner satisfactory, your Highness?" Archer asked as he sipped the wine from his glass.

"It is most unusual, but very satisfying, thank you Captain," Jara replied with a smile.

"Would you care for some desert? Chef makes a most excellent pecan pie." Jon commented and said, "The commander has a particular weakness for it and so the Chef makes sure he makes one just so that the Commander stays happy." The light smile was not lost on Jara and immediately she grew curious of this and cast her gaze upon the Commander.

"What is so special, Commander, about this pecan pie desert?" Jara worked hard at trying to control her voice so that it did not become threatening.

"Well," Trip said without much thought. "I guess there is not anything particularly special about it. I just really enjoy the flavor and that it brings back several fond memories of my childhood."

"Now I understand. Sorry, I must try to remember that all the cultures are not the same as mine. Therefore have many things that are bewildering to me at times." Jara said and mentally took note of the man's features for future reference.

"Don't worry about it. We humans have a tough time with remembering that we ourselves are not alone in the universe ourselves," Archer replied with a brilliant smile. "It is one of the reasons we are out here exploring."


Hoshi was about to enter the lift when Trip walked up beside her. Looking at Trip and then remembering what she had done with Malcolm, Hoshi could not bear to look at him for fear he would read the truth in her eyes and hate her for her deceit. She did not think it wise to be near him with her emotions so highly frayed so she quickly said, "I must have left a report in the mess hall, if you will excuse me Commander." Quickly turning, Sato headed back to the mess hall wanting to put distance between her and the Commander.

"Hosh, wait up," Trip's voice caught her departure and Hoshi could not pretend that she didn't hear it, because Trip would just holler at her again and follow her.

Stopping her retreat, she turned toward the Commander and without looking at him directly, she asked, "Yes Commander?"

"What has gotten into you?" Trip asked as he walked up to where Hoshi stood.

"I don't know what you mean, sir," replied Hoshi, who still refused to look directly at him.

Trip noticed the difference these past three days since he came back from shore leave. Hoshi refused to speak to him and if he did get her to speak she would usually only give him one-syllable answers and even then she would not look directly at him as she was doing now. There was something bothering his friend and he wanted to know what it was. "You know what I am talking about," Trip said as he watched Hoshi avoid any eye contact. "What is wrong with you? Why does it seem that when you see me you go out of your way to avoid me? Then, there is you not talking to me, and if I do get you to talk to me you usually answer in one syllable words and even then you seem unable to look at me directly."

She did not want to have to talk about this with him. Hoshi felt like a trapped animal and she could feel she was close to tears. Needing to get away from him she made up an excuse, "I have to really find that report Commander, or the Captain will be furious at me. Please, let's talk about this another time."

"No. I'll help you look for that report—after we get whatever is wrong between us cleared up," Trip said with a determined look in his eyes that told Hoshi that she was not going to avoid him this time.


Jon entered his quarters after a trying day with the Imperial Princess. It seemed everywhere he went she was nearby. He had started trying to avoid her without making it obvious. It seemed that all the other crewmembers seemed to avoid him as well. His only contact with his crew was when he was on duty or during meals, when T'Pol and Trip joined himself and Jara for meals in his dining room. He was becoming frustrated, and if he didn't find a way to occupy his royal guest, he would seriously ruin a first contact, possibly throwing Starfleet into a war with the Kalahari due to the fact he had killed their Imperial Princess.

Hoshi Sato was scared now as she was pulled behind Trip and steered through corridors and then finally into his and Malcolm's quarter's. How ironic that she would end up facing Trip here in this room where she had met with Malcolm for their last night of passion before everything came crashing down when the Captain had caught them.

Once inside, Trip turned to Hoshi and said, "We won't be disturbed and whatever you have to say will stay in this room." The man stood with his hands on hips as he watched Hoshi intently. "What is the matter, Hosh? If there is something I've done, then please give me the chance to defend myself."

Hoshi felt like she could die at those words. He thought he did something to offend her and wanted a chance to correct it. She only shook her head and weakly said, "What is wrong has nothing to do with what you did, Trip, but it has everything to do with what I did to you."

"You did to me?" Trip remarked confusedly. "I don't recall you ever doing anything to me that offended me."

"That's the point, Trip, you don't know what I've done, and it would have stayed that way if the Captain had not returned to the ship so early," Hoshi replied.

"So the Captain really did return to the ship. Mal said he had, but when I saw him down on the planet when we were coming back from shore leave, I thought Malcolm was lying to me." Trip said as he recalled the time back on the planet.

"That's just it, Trip, he may have not lied to you then, but he and I have been lying to you for quite awhile." Hoshi remarked, looking at Trip pointedly. "We weren't playing poker all those nights, Trip, and he did not always work late either."

Trip's face held a perplexed look on it, but Hoshi watched his eyes and knew the exact moment when recognition of what she was really telling him came into those eyes. They turned a shade darker as a mixture of pain, denial, and then anger flash in them. Hoshi became scared as Trip's face became flushed and she actually started to back up toward the door as she warily watched Trip.

She was almost to the door when Trip's strained voice stopped her in her tracks. "You are not going any where, Hoshi." Trip walked to the comm panel and punched a button. "Tucker to Reed."

"Reed here," Malcolm's voice replied.

Trip's voice was calm and oddly cold as he continued to watch Hoshi, making her shiver at the icy look that those blue eyes shot her. Then he hit the comm button again and replied, "I have a situation here in our quarters. Could you come by and help me resolve it?"

"Can it wait Trip? I am somewhat busy at the moment," Replied Malcolm.

"I rather it not. It would be best to get this taken care of as quick as possible," Trip remarked as casually as he was able.

There was a short pause before Malcolm's voice replied over the comm, "I will be there shortly."


Jon sat in his chair with Porthos in his lap, absently petting the beagle as he thought about Trip and Malcolm. The scene he had witnessed haunted him and he only wished he could talk to someone about it, but that person was involved so that would not help. As Jon sat there thinking of Trip, he realized he had not seen his best friend since they left the planet. With that thought, Jon stood up and put Porthos down and said, "I think I will go and see what Trip is up to." Going to the door, Archer looked back at Porthos and said, "You see any female aliens in the vicinity other than T'Pol, you have my permission to pee on them."


Malcolm made his way to his shared quarters wondering what situation had come up when he saw the Captain coming in his direction. Immediately, Malcolm tensed up and as the Captain came near, Malcolm cleared his throat and said, "Sir, may I have a word with you?" He could feel his heart accelerate and the blood rush through his veins faster as he awaited the Captain's response. The Armory Officer had made the decision to speak with the Captain a couple of days ago, but it seemed that royal alien was always accompanying him. Now that he was alone, Malcolm thought it was the best time as any to finally speak with the Captain and finally speak with Trip and tell him about Hoshi.

"I don't see why not," Jon responded as he looked at Malcolm. He decided a few days ago that he was not going to act any different around Malcolm due to what happened. He didn't think he could actually be a friend with Malcolm, but he could still treat the Lieutenant with friendly courtesy. "I was just coming to see what Trip was up to, but I think it could wait. Would you like to go some place else to talk?"

"No, I don't see why we can't chat in my quarters. This will also give me a chance to talk with Trip about what happened and if you are here he may not try and kill me." Malcolm tried to inject some humor into the situation, but failed.

"I understand," Jon said and looked at Malcolm closely. "You know that I would have never told him. It was not my place to do so, even though he is my best friend."

"Thank you sir and I do appreciate it," Malcolm replied as he went to the door and punched in the code to open the door.


Hoshi watched Trip warily as he moved about the quarters aimlessly, almost as if he was looking for something, but unable to find whatever he was looking for. He gave up and then stood by the bathroom door, looking at her with a very cold stare. "You stand over here by me, just over there," Trip said and pointed to a spot by him. Hoshi quietly obeyed, too scared to form any objections.

Standing by Trip, Hoshi still could see the door and whatever Trip had planned. She could only hope she would be able to warn Malcolm of any danger if necessary. Every instinct told her that Trip was going to do Malcolm bodily harm and she frantically thought of a way to divert it. Then the door slid open and Hoshi's body seemed to be frozen in place and her throat constricted so tightly that it choked out any sound that she tried to form as she watched the Captain come in followed by Malcolm.

Jon was surprised to see his Linguistics Officer standing against the wall just leading to the latrine. The look on Hoshi's face was that of pure fear and Jon became concerned and was about to speak when he heard Malcolm's concerned voice.

" Hoshi?" The concern and surprise mixed with confusion and fear were all evident in Malcolm's voice, as he had slowed his pace as he entered his quarters. "Why are you here? Is Trip here?" Then he caught a sudden movement just to the side of Hoshi and heard Trip's voice in a deadly cold growl.

"I'm right here you two-timing son-of-a-bitch!" Trip came out from around the corner leading to the latrine with his fist in motion. His fist connected with skin and bone and sounded with a loud crack. To Trip's horror, the face his fist had met was not that of his cheating lover, but that of his best friend. He watched in dismay, as everything played out in slow motion: seeing Jon's head snap sideways from the force of the blow and the surprise of the attack sending him off balance to stumble and fall toward the bed. There was an eerily loud thud as the Captain's head hit the edge of the bed frame and then all became silent as all three pairs of eyes stared in alarm as the Captain lay motionless on the floor by the bed.

Trip was the first to come to his senses and immediately rushed to where his best friend lay prone and spoke in a shaky voice, "Cap'n? Cap'n?" Gently prodding and shaking the still form, Trip again tried to speak to him, "Jon? Jon, please get up and tell me you're okay."

Malcolm regained himself from the shock of the events and immediately went to the comm panel and pressed the button. "Reed to Dr. Phlox. Medical emergency in my quarters."

"On my way Lieutenant," Phlox responded shortly afterward.


A medical team accompanied by Dr. Phlox arrived and took the Captain's prone body to sickbay. Trip started to follow, but was stopped by Malcolm's hand on his arm. "Trip, there is nothing that you can do at the moment for the Captain. Why not tell me why you were lying in wait for the Captain to hit him?" Malcolm asked, his hand held Trip's arm firmly.

Trip looked coldly at Malcolm and then to Hoshi, who stood in the same spot where he had told her to stand, then turned back at Malcolm and gave the man an evil sneer. "Don't flatter yourself, Mal. You should know damn well I called you to come to our quarters. Not the Captain. I didn't know he was here until the instant I hit him." Jerking his arm away from Malcolm's grasp, Trip continued. "You were the one that was meant for that fist, not the Captain. You better be damn glad that it was him and not you, because I would have kept on hitting you, you rotten piece of shit."

"What has gotten into you?" Malcolm asked, but knowing the answer to the question before he asked it as he noticed Hoshi's presence once more.

"Shut up Malcolm," Trip said. "Don't fucking tell me that you don't know what the hell I am talking about. Hell, your little whore is standing right over there. You can't be so naïve to believe that she just came over for a social call." Trip's eyes shot daggers at Malcolm. "Hell, she's been avoiding me like I was infected with some weird alien disease." The anger in Trip made him shake as he remembered what Hoshi confessed and he felt his anger grow fiercer within his gut. "If I had gotten a hold of you Malcolm, I would have killed you, or at least tried my damnedest. Now I think it best for me to separate myself from you two's company or I fear I will become very ungentlemanly." He glanced at Hoshi then at Malcolm, "I'd really fuck you up Hosh, let alone that I will put you in an early grave Malcolm." With that said, Trip turned and walked out of their quarters and off to sickbay.

Watching Trip storm out of the room, Malcolm could not help feel a sense of tension ease out of his body. Turning finally to gaze upon a silent Hoshi, Malcolm said, "So you told him." He could not yet figure how he felt about Hoshi's betrayal of him, but he just chalked it up as just the shock of the recent events that had just played out. "What possessed you to tell Trip about us? Did you not know that he would have an adverse reaction to such information?" His voice was rising in anger and he realized at that moment that Hoshi was on the verge of tears. Regret tore at his heart at his treatment of his lover and he went over and took her in his arms, whispering softly in her ear, "It will be okay, sweets. We will get through this together. I will make everything right with us and Trip."

"How, Malcolm?" Hoshi asked as she extracted herself from his arms and looking into his gray eyes she continued. "What can possibly be said to Trip, by us, that will take away the pain that we both have caused him?"

"I don't know yet, Hoshi, but I will try and make things better," Malcolm replied. He smiled at Hoshi as he swept away a loose strand of hair that had fallen down her forehead and said, "It may take some time, but I do hope eventually that we can make amends, not only to Trip, but the Captain as well." He leaned in and pressed his lips to her forehead and then took her in his arms. "I'm glad that it's finally out in the open now. I, myself, was going to confront Trip tonight while the Captain was here, but then, events didn't go as I planned."

Hoshi, despite her somber mood, smiled at that, although it was a troubled smile. She hoped that their deception didn't cause irreparable damage. "We caused all this Malcolm. If it weren't for our deceitfulness, Trip would not hate us so much and the Captain would not have been hurt or worse." She looked at Malcolm with fear in her eyes. "What if the Captain never regains consciousness, Malcolm, and what about Trip? If the Captain dies or if he does live, but is never the same, Trip would blame himself and then us? We would never be able to make amends to either of them."

"Hush, love," Malcolm consoled. "Nothing is going to happen to the Captain. He'll pull through this, I'm sure." He hoped he sounded convincing, although he was worried about the Captain's prognosis. "Everything will work itself out as I said before. You have to just have faith in that."


Trip wanted so much to go to sickbay, and he was going to, but once he arrived at the doors to sickbay, he couldn't bring him to enter. Instead of going in, Trip went to the observation deck and now, as he looked out of the windows, his thoughts were on his best friend in sickbay. It would be his fault if the Captain suffered any permanent damage or even if he died. That last thought scared Trip to his very core. The knowledge that he may have very well caused his friend's death was the last thread that held his emotions at bay and Trip broke down, the tears flowing freely. "How am I going to deal with not ever seeing that beautiful face, or hearing that melodic voice?" Trip thought to himself. "I don't want to just dream about him for the rest of my life."

The last thought stunned Trip, as he realized that he wanted more than just dreams of the Captain. He was supposed to be in love with Malcolm, but instead he found that he was wanting more than dreams from his Captain. "Was I betraying Malcolm with my dreams of the Captain? Did I unintentionally push Malcolm away?" Trip questioned as he continued to stare out of the windows at the passing stars.


Imperial Princess Jara wanted to rip Charles 'Trip' Tucker III to shreds with her bare hands. Her soon to be mate was lying in sickbay due to his actions, and she felt it was her duty to seek revenge on the Chief Engineer for her future mate. The only problem now, was to get him in a secluded area where she would not be noticed as she carried out that revenge. Thoughts of carrying out the revenge on Trip Tucker, several gory scenarios, brought a pleasurable smile to her face that reached all the way to her eyes.


Jon felt groggy as he struggled to open his eyes. Once he had them opened and went to turn his head the pain exploded within like a bomb. He groaned from the pain and soon he was confronted with the doctor smiling down upon him.

"Glad to see you are awake Captain," Phlox commented as he did some scans of Jon's head. "You have been out for several days now, and have everyone in a state of severe worry." Finishing the scan he then gave the Captain a hypo spray and said, "This should ease the headache."

Almost immediately the blinding pain in his head eased dramatically and Jon was able to move with only slight discomfort. He looked around and asked, "Why am I here? What happened?"

"You don't remember anything?" Phlox asked with concern.

"I remember only going to see Trip and then running into Malcolm on the way and he wanted to talk with me," Jon answered. "I remember going in their quarters and seeing Hoshi there and Malcolm asking her why she was there and then." Jon stopped as he tried to recollect the exact moments of his memories. "Trip was there I think, but I can't be sure, but I seem to recall seeing him only briefly before I felt pain in my jaw and then I felt like I was falling and then nothing after that." He brought his hand up to rub at his jaw absently as he continued to force his brain to recall the events in hopes he could remember something more.

"Well you seem to remember quite a bit of that day," Phlox said amicably. He seemed confident the Captain didn't have any lingering effects from the concussion. "The reason you are unable to remember anything past that, is that you fell and hit your head after Commander Tucker hit you in the jaw."

"Trip hit me? Why?" Jon asked with confusion evident in his every word. "What happened that would make him hit me?"

"I'm not too clear on the full reasons as to why. Lieutenant Reed stopped by a few hours after the incident and said that the Commander was not himself because he was given some very unsettling news from Hoshi just before you and Mr. Reed came into the room," Phlox replied.

Realization dawned on Jon then. Hoshi must have confessed the affair between her and Malcolm to Trip. That would explain why she was there looking frightened and then his brief sighting of Trip just before the Commander's fist connected with his jaw which threw him off balance causing him to fall and hit his head. "Where is the Commander now?" Jon asked. "Have you seen him?" Knowing full well that Trip must feel terrible at the turn of events, Jon felt he needed to talk with his friend and ease his torment.

"He did drop by briefly, only to ask how you were and the Princess Jara was here visiting you at the time. He didn't stay long, saying he was on his way to Engineering," Phlox explained. "Oddly, the Princess left immediately after the Commander, saying she would like to have a word with the Commander." Looking perplexed as he lamented the events, Phlox's face turned worrisome. "Speaking of Princess Jara, I must say that there is something strange about her physiology."

"What do you mean? She's an alien, so her physiology would be different than everyone else's right?" Jon asked as he looked at the doctor.

"Yes, but hers is not what it seems. It's like there are two people in the same body. It's quite perplexing to say the least. I have been trying to figure it out ever since I did the scans on her when she arrived," Phlox commented. "I didn't want to say anything for fear the scans were wrong, but I secretly did some scans on her while she was here visiting you and they showed up exactly the same."

"You're telling me that the Princess is not what she appears to be?" Jon asked with a hint of worry creeping in his voice. "Exactly what I am saying, Sir," Phlox answered.

"Call Trip to sickbay," Jon ordered as he felt some overwhelming fear that Trip might be in trouble.

Phlox went to the comm panel and called the Commander. A few seconds later he tried to call again, but to no avail. Trip was not answering. Jon got up out of the bed and fighting a wave of dizziness, he made his way to the doctor. Pressing the comm, he called for T'Pol.

"Yes Captain," T'Pol's voice came through shortly afterward.

"I need you to locate Commander Tucker and also the Princess," Jon said as he depressed the button and waited for the Sub-Commander's reply.

T'Pol's voice returned with the reply, "The Commander and the Princess are both in the shuttle bay."

Fear leaped in Jon's throat and he ordered T'Pol to have Reed and a security team meet him at the shuttle bay. Looking back at the doctor, Jon said, "You aren't going to stop me are you?"

"I should, but if you wish to go I shall go with you. You may need my services if our guest turns out to be quite disagreeable," Phlox said as he went to collect some necessary medical supplies.

"T'Pol to Captain Archer," T'Pol's voice came over the comm panel.

"Archer here," Jon answered as he watched the doctor.

"There is a ship approaching on our starboard. They are approaching at an accelerated speed. All attempts at hailing have failed," T'Pol explained.

"Evasive maneuvers and continue hailing them. Fire only if all other attempts have been exhausted," Jon said.

"Understood. Lieutenant Reed and his team are on their way," T'Pol said

"Understood," Jon replied.

Archer and Phlox hurriedly made their way to the shuttle bay where they were met by Reed and his team. Jon briefed them on what the doctor had told him and his suspicions that the Princess could want to harm Trip. As he was explaining to Reed and his team, the ship suddenly did a harsh pitch and shook tremendously knocking everyone to the ground.

Getting up, Jon went to the comm panel and called T'Pol. The tactical alert sounded and T'Pol's voice responded shortly there after.

"The unidentified ship has latched onto Enterprise," T'Pol said.

"We are going into the shuttle bay now. Find out everything you can about that ship. Use whatever force you need to get dislodge that ship," Jon replied.

Archer noticed the two occupants immediately upon entering the shuttle bay area. Trip was struggling to free the Princess's hand from around his throat. "Let him go Princess Jara," Jon yelled as he hoped to distract her enough that she would release his friend.

Jara looked different somehow, but Jon wasn't sure how. He noticed she had looked over at him, but did not release Trip. "He has caused you pain, for that he shall die."

"No," Jon yelled. Fear swelled up through his body and the Princess snarled at him.

"You are my chosen mate. I will not compete for your affections." Jara looked at Trip and then back at Jon. "His feelings are more than friendship for you. This I cannot allow. You are to be my mate, not his." She clinched her hand harder around Trip's throat and Jon could hear his wheezing and watched as Trip's face starting to turn a purplish red from lack of oxygen.

"Shoot her," Jon ordered.

The security team all set their phase pistols to stun and each took aim. Reed was the first to fire and the shot only jolted the Princess as she gave out a loud screech. The second security member shot and then the Princess stumbled and then finally released Trip after the third member hit her with his phase pistol. It took the entire security team firing to bring her down while the Captain pulled Trip to safety.

Jon left Trip in the care of the doctor as he went with Malcolm to where the Princess was slowly getting up from the floor. The other security team members followed them with weapons trained as they approached the Princess who finally came to a standing position and turned around to face them.

"You have made me very angry Captain. I wanted to make this an easy transition for you as my mate, but now you leave me no choice." Jara spoke in an almost raspy voice and a hiss. Jon instinctively looked at his surroundings to find a safe haven if need be. His eyes came to rest on his friend and he felt his heart skip a beat as Trip was standing and looking at Jon. He gave him a small smile and a wink to let Jon know that he was okay and not to worry. Turning his attention back to the Princess who at that moment let out a loud screech, "You dare defy me! Your affections will belong to me. There is no room for affections for another besides me as my chosen mate." Jara hissed evilly as her eyes changed to a bright yellow- orange color.

"I have no wish to become your mate Princess Jara. My life is here on this ship and I don't have any affection for you in regards to becoming your mate," Jon said stiffly as he continued to watch Jara.

"You will be my mate, Jonathan Archer. There is no choice in the matter for you," Jara replied as she gave out another hiss.

Everyone in the room started to back up as they watched the Princess start to convulse. Her skin started to ripple and expand. "I think we are going to find out what that other person looks like doctor," Jon said as he backed up to stand next to Trip and the doctor.

Reed and his team started to fire upon the Princess as she continued to convulse. The phase pistols were having no effect, even on the kill setting, and eventually they gave up and decided to all evacuate the shuttle bay.

They were almost to the doors when the most reverberating scream came from behind them. They all turned to see the creature before them. It resembled the Princess, but it was taller and her head was covered with tentacles of some sort that replaced the headdress that she had always worn. Her eyes were now a yellow-orange color and there was no nose, but the mouth had expanded to twice its normal size, as did the jaw and chin. Her upper lip seemed to disappear under the flap where there should have been a nose. Teeth were now showing and they were all razor sharp, almost like shark teeth. The rest of her body was slightly bent over, but her arms and hands had changed dramatically. Jara's arms had stretched longer and the elbows had grown a large spike, and then there were her hands. They were pretty much the same until the Princess stretched them and then out came smaller spikes.

Everyone turned to get to the door, but one of the security team members let out a choking cry and Jon looked to see one of his men's throat had been penetrated by one of the Princess's spikes. Looking behind the man, he saw Jara directly behind the dying man. Reed and his remaining team started to fire upon Jara who only hissed and then leaped up and slammed into another of Reed's men, jamming her spiked fingers into his face until there was nothing left of it except a bloody mass of tissue and bone. The body was still jerking in it's dying moments as she leapt off of the dead man's body and then reached out with the tentacles from her head and wrapped two around Trip's arms and started to drag him back towards her.

Jon let out a scream and immediately rushed at the Princess, firing his pistol all the while. Jara screamed at the pain the pistol caused, then swung her hand and knocked the Captain back off his feet causing him to loose his pistol. Before he could get up, Jara grabbed him by the ankle and dragged him to her as well.

Releasing his ankle, Jara grabbed his left arm and brought him closer to her and next to where Trip stood and was struggling to free himself. "You have a choice Captain. Which will it be? You either agree to be my mate and leave with me, or do I kill your boyfriend here and then you and everyone on this ship?" Jara spoke as she spoke in that raspy hissing voice.

Archer looked back at the doctor, Reed, and his remaining men then down to where the two dead security men lay. Hatred welled up inside of Archer and then his eyes came to rest on his best friend. The man that he had known for nine years and would do anything to keep him safe, just so that others would be able to know the man and enjoy his zest for life. Looking in Trip's eyes, Jon came to realize something more. He loved this man and he knew then what his answer would be.

Turning to Jara, Jon asked, "You keep your word that he and all the others will be let go safely?"

"Yes," Jara replied.

"Okay, I will agree to become your mate," Jon said in a sad voice as he looked at Trip's face.

"No!" Trip yelled. "Please Jon, don't do this." Trip struggled against the tentacles and then Jara let him go which sent him crashing to the ground. Getting to his feet, Trip started to run to Jon, but was backhanded by Jara and thrown backward to where Malcolm, Phlox, and the rest of the security team stood. Trip stood up and started to go after Jon again, but both Phlox and Reed held him back.

"No! Jon, I love you, please don't leave me," Trip cried as his tears flowed down his cheeks and blurred the vision of his Captain. His struggles became useless as he watched a bright light engulf the Princess and the Captain and then they faded away, transported.

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