Title: A Pregnant Pause

Author: Weebob

E-mail: weebob@fsmail.net


Archer's Enterprise

Fandom: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Rating: R

Feedback: Aids the learning process!

Archive: EntSTCommunity, Reed's Armory, BLTS, MEGA—if you want it—any others, please ask first.

SPOILERS: The Expanse, A Night in Sickbay, Singularity

Warning: Mpreg

Summary: A companion piece to my fic "Just One More," filling in a few missing details about Charlie Tucker-Reed's arrival.

Sequel to: Just One More

DISCLAIMER: I don't own or have any rights to the Star Trek universe, "Enterprise", or any of its characters—they belong to UPN/Paramount. I am making no money from this story.

"Congratulations, Commander, Great news, Lieutenant!"

As Ensign Nasir passed out of earshot, the glowering storm that had been gathering since the first crewman had wished them well that morning finally broke.

"What the bloody hell did you do? Make a flippin' ship-wide announcement? Isn't there ANYTHING private about our private life? Trip, you KNOW how I feel about this. Did you make a conscious choice to go blabbing to every Tom, Dick and Harry or is terminal indiscretion something you Americans are born with?"

Despite his husband's ranting, Trip Tucker was still smiling wider than the cat that got the cream. He drew Malcolm aside into a nearby storeroom and engulfed him in a hug. "Darlin' yer upset, ain't ya?"

The explosive "Gah!" that he smothered in his shoulder only served to make him smile more and hug harder.

When the man in his arms finally stopped struggling and cursing, he planted a kiss on his brow then leaned back a little to study him properly.

"Malcolm, when the guy ah love volunteers to have mah baby surgically implanted in `im and then carry it for however long it takes, `cos ah can't do it m'self, don't ya think ah wanna shout it from the rooftops? An' what was ah supposed to say when ya were holed up in yer quarters for a week while ya were convalescin'? Jon told everyone `cept T'Pol—she got the real story—that ya'd been havin' surgery and were to rest up, but all that meant was folks were trappin' me in corridors an' turbolifts to ask for details. An' ah ain't a good liar."

Finally simmering down somewhat, Malcolm sighed: "I'm sorry, love. Its just a bit overwhelming being the centre of attention on my first day back on duty, especially when I'm feeling so bloody sick. And I can't believe my uniform's too tight already—that just accentuates things and makes people stare."

Trip laughed, "Let `em stare, darlin'. Although Phlox took out a few bits an' pieces to make room, he did say ya'd be showin' almost immediately." He ran a gentle hand over Malcolm's belly, seeing that the fabric of his coveralls did look a little strained in places. "We'll go see the quartermaster later on an' ask if he can let out a seam or two."

Scowling, Malcolm led the way back to the corridor and into a turbolift. As its doors opened onto the bridge, Trip leaned over to whisper in his husband's ear: "An' no more racial slurs, darlin'. Ah don't wan' the kid to hear ya badmouthin' his poppa!"


Malcolm Reed gasped as his sweating body began to spasm involuntarily. Pressed close behind him, he could feel his husband, holding him around the waist and calling encouragements over the unintelligible sounds the lieutenant was currently making.

"That's it, darlin'. Don't hold back. Let it come."

Convinced that he wouldn't hold out for much longer, Malcolm groaned loudly: "I hate you Trip Tucker, I really…Oh, Fuck!"

His tirade was cut short as, yet again, he retched and heaved into the toilet. This time, he successfully produced something and Trip gave his back a congratulatory rub. "There ya go, Malcolm. All better now?"

Slumping sideways against the lavatory wall, Malcolm glared at the engineer: "No, I'm bloody not all better. God knows when I'll EVER feel better again! Its been six weeks, Trip. Six sodding weeks of feeling sick every minute of the day—except for when I'm actually BEING sick. Are you SURE Phlox said this is normal?"

Grinning, his husband poured some mouthwash into a tumbler and handed it to him: "Now darlin', ah never said that. The doc says its not ABNORMAL for nausea to be constant throughout the first three months of pregnancy. Ya just have to sit it out meantime."

Doubling the wattage of his glare, Malcolm rinsed and spat. Trip took the empty glass from him then helped him to his feet and through to their cabin, where he flopped, listlessly, on their bunk. "Oh God, I think I'm dying."

Trip sat beside him and began gently rubbing his afflicted partner's stomach. After about 15 minutes, Malcolm groaned: "How long until we're due on the bridge?"

"Twenty minutes, darlin'. You go hit the shower an' ah'll fetch ya some tea an' toast. Usually, if ya eat something just after ya throw up it stays down."

He helped the hapless lieutenant to get up again then left him to his morning toilet. As he exited their quarters, he heard Malcolm's voice echoing from the shower: "Just remember, Trip Tucker, I am never, EVER, doing this again, d'you hear? I'd rather face the bloody Klingon battle fleet than have another baby."


Jonathan Archer enjoyed having company for dinner and it had been a few weeks since Trip had been able to join him. He sat back at the table and took a sip of his wine. "Well, Trip, I have to say it isn't getting any easier to come to terms with having a pregnant Armoury officer. When you asked permission for Malcolm to go ahead with the procedure, I must admit I was amazed.

Laughing, Tucker shovelled in another mouthful of dessert. "Ah'm STILL kinda amazed! You know ah always wanted a family, Cap'n, an seein' Hoshi and Travis havin' li'l Alice just made me broody. Malcolm's not exactly the maternal type, though. In fact, he'd never even thought about us havin' kids—but he's adamant that our baby ain't bein' grown in a lab an' he's determined to go through with the pregnancy to the end, even though he's been awful sick for the last three months. At least that's eased up now an' he's puttin' on weight. Mind you, the hormone injections are getting' to `im a bit. He has headaches an' gets irritable more often…"

The Captain's eyebrows shot up: "MORE irritable?"

Trip nodded, grinning, "…but he usually goes all weepy now, instead of losin' his temper. Oh, an' his hair's growin' like weeds—it has to be trimmed every week right now—although most of his body hair has fallen out. He ain't too pleased, but ah think its kinda sexy, ya know? When we cuddle up he's all warm an' smooth an'…"

The Captain looked uncomfortable as the engineer developed a rather dreamy expression: "Trip—too much information!"

Pulling his mind back, with difficulty, to the present, Trip cleared his throat: "Eh? Uh, sorry Cap'n. Yeah, well, other `n that, he's the same old Malcolm."

Feeling rather flustered, Archer eased open his collar and took a swallow of his wine "Well, I never thought I'd say it, but thank God for that!"


Midway through the most wonderful dream involving Malcolm, a tropical island and a bottle of coconut massage oil, Trip Tucker felt a familiar elbow digging him repeatedly in the ribs.

"Tri-ip? Are you awake, love? I'm hungry and I really fancy some black pudding, Trip! I know I won't be able to get to sleep again if I don't have some. I've been awake for two hours just thinking about it."

Blearily, Tucker rubbed his eyes and tried to focus on his partner. Weird nocturnal cravings were a new development in Reed's pregnancy and, as far as the engineer was concerned, they were far from welcome. "Malcolm, its 2am—and what the hell is black puddin' anyway?"

"Oh Trip, its delicious! It's a sort of thick sausage made out of pig's blood and seasoning and…"

Trip was pulling a disgusted face "My God, Malcolm! Are you turnin' into a goddam vampire or somethin'? What about some pineapple and chilli sauce?"

"No! Its bloody revolting!"

The engineer looked incredulous: "What? Ya were crazy for it last night! Ah had to get ya three helpins!"

Looking a little like he might cry at any moment, Malcolm blinked up at his husband: "Don't yell at me, Trip! If you really cared you'd slip along to the galley and see if Chef still has any black pudding stashed away…he made some for me just last week. Oh, and tomato ketchup. I need tomato ketchup with black pudding…especially re- sequenced black pudding…I'd go myself but you know how I hate the way the galley staff stare at me like I'm a freak."

Already pulling on his sweatpants, Tucker listened to his husband's fixated rambling and groaned in defeat. "Malcolm, ah never thought ya could get any more paranoid, but…"


Trip stopped in mid-sentence as Malcolm cried out suddenly and clutched at his abdomen, confusion clear on his face: "Darlin' what is it? D'ya need Phlox?"

For a few moments, his husband remained silent and still, eyes wide and startled, then a slow smile spread over his features. "Trip I feel it! Its moving! Quick, come here."

Leaning over, Trip allowed him to guide his hand to a spot on his now- rounded stomach and hold it there. For a few moments they waited, then the engineer felt a slight but definite fluttering under his palm. "Well, ah'll be damned! Ain't that something, darlin'? We're havin' a baby!"


Despite his advancing pregnancy, Malcolm stubbornly continued to carry out most of his normal duties—although needing to modify the way he did so, in some instances. Jobs he usually stood to undertake were now done whilst seated, his new maxim being "never stand if you can sit and never sit if you can lie."

The first casualties of his delicate condition were his all-nighters in the Armoury, carrying out weapons modifications—they had been curtailed by his need to nap every few hours—and he no longer forgot to eat as, fuelling both himself and the baby now, he was constantly hungry!

One evening, shortly before their return to Earth, Trip Tucker came off shift to find their quarters empty and a message from Malcolm on their computer terminal: "Famished! Couldn't wait for you. See you in the Mess Hall."

Smiling, Trip headed for the shower. These days, it seemed as if Malcolm spent most of his time eating and the Enterprise quartermaster was finding it a challenge to keep pace with alterations to the expanding lieutenant's uniforms!

Of course Malcolm, even though he had long since said goodbye to his waistline, was still working out, determined to stay as fit as possible. Tucker had spent quite some time adjusting the settings on a static bike and tweaking one of the gym's treadmills to provide what he termed "waddling pace", so that his husband could continue his exercise routine.

In the Mess Hall, Malcolm was already halfway through his second helping of dessert. Taking a mouthful of his own beef stew, Trip frowned at the odd, apparently polka-dot pudding the lieutenant was devouring. "What the hell is that, Malcolm?"

Swallowing his current mouthful with an expression of bliss on his face, Reed grinned at the engineer "Spotted Dick." Trip almost choked on his own food, "Jesus! That sounds like somethin' ya oughta see Phlox about!"

Joining in with his laughter, Malcolm scraped the plate clean "Chef's been indulging me with a few traditional English dishes of late and Spotted Dick is one of my favourite puddings. Since I've been pregnant, he's made it his personal project to make sure I eat enough to nourish the baby. It seems I have a reputation for starving myself. Can't think how that came about."

Trip finished his meal while Malcolm chatted about anything and everything that had occurred during his shift. He looked well and relaxed but, most of all, Tucker noted with satisfaction, he looked happy.

Malcolm suddenly noticed he was being studied: "What?"

His husband pushed his empty plate aside "It suits ya."

Still confused, the Armoury officer knit his dark brows together in puzzlement. "What suits me?"

"Bein' pregnant. Yer kinda "glowin'" these days."

He was gratified to see his partner duck his head and blush to the roots of his thick and lustrous hair "I…I don't know what you mean."

Standing, Trip took him by the hand "Come on back to our quarters an' ah'll explain."

As the doors shut behind them, Tucker locked them, dimmed the lights and steadily backed a now-giggling Malcolm against the bulkhead. "What ah mean, Mr Tucker-Reed, is that ya look so han'some it takes me all mah time tah keep mah hands off ya."

To illustrate his point, he unzipped Malcolm's uniform and slid it off his shoulders then hastily removed both his undershirts. In the subdued lighting, Malcolm's eyes looked enormous and dark, but there was no mistaking the want burning in their hazy depths. He started to say something but Trip silenced him with the deepest of kisses then stepped back a little to admire him.

Some of Malcolm's body hair had grown back in again, mostly as a fine down on his arms and legs. His chest and stomach, however, remained smooth and Trip let his fingertips ghost over the slightly darker and more pronounced nipples before gently kissing and running his tongue over them, eliciting a happy sigh. "Oh, that's nice love. My chest's been so sore lately that I've been scared to touch it, but you got that just right."

Grinning, Trip turned his attention to Malcolm's protruding stomach, lightly fondling the bulge and feeling the surges of movement within. "Happy to oblige, darlin'. Hey! Somebody's restless tonight!"

Reed laughed "Oh, he's like that most of the time now. Hyperactive, like you."

His jumpsuit was abruptly pulled the rest of the way down to his ankles, along with his undershorts. Within moments, he was naked and carefully being arranged on all fours on their bunk, his entire body thrumming with desire.

It was a strange sensation, feeling Trip and the baby inside him at the same time. The squirming in his belly and the slow, deep, rhythmic movements of his husband seemed to combine to make his pleasure more intense than he had ever thought possible and he could hear himself sobbing with joy as the waves of orgasm began to crash over him.

He lay awake for some time that night, snuggled on Trip's chest, as his son—for they knew definitely now that Tucker-Reed junior was a boy—somersaulted within him. For all his earlier ambivalence, having a baby felt so right now—as did all three of them lying here together.

His family.


Jonathan Archer stifled a laugh as he watched the Tucker-Reeds assume their stations on the bridge. They were bickering as usual but there was no doubt whatsoever about the loving regard in which they held each other.

Malcolm sat down at Tactical then, as had become usual of late, the fidgeting began. The Captain caught Hoshi's eye and saw that she too—having experienced Reed's difficulty firsthand—was looking on with amusement.

Having a pregnant tactical officer was not something Archer would every have envisaged when the Enterprise first set out on her mission—Starfleet regulations being uppermost in everyone's mind at that time—but the dangers they'd faced as a crew, and the bonds that were formed through time and adversity, convinced him that there were more important things in life than blindly obeying the rule book. Now every situation was considered on its own merits and, normally, he let his crew get on with living their lives. Hoshi's pregnancy had given him cause for doubt but, when she'd politely told him (off the record, of course) that her procreation was none of his goddamn business, he'd backed off. He hadn't even thought to challenge Trip and Malcolm on the matter.

If couples felt they were willing to risk their children's lives on a starship, who was he to argue—after all, as Travis repeatedly reminded him—boomers had been having space babies for years.

Shipboard weddings had become quite common—the Tucker-Reed nuptials being the most recent—and even he was dipping his toe in the ocean of love! Totally unexpectedly, he had fallen for one of Chef's assistants, Annabella Larsen, a plumply pretty widow of his own age who, having seen her children and grandchildren safely settled in their lives, decided to indulge her desire for adventure and sign up to be an "Enterprise galley slave".

She was an excellent cook but also a lively conversationalist and a dog-lover to boot. The fact that she had a healthy appetite for sex and was vocal in her enjoyment of Archer's body didn't hurt either!

He glanced back at Malcolm, still trying to arrange his bump in a way that was comfortable but didn't obstruct his use of the tactical console, and smiled: with Annabella, there was also no need to worry about contraception!

T'Pol interrupted his wool-gathering with some totally disinteresting piece of information regarding revised protocol, in relation to the Vulcan High Command, effective upon the ship's return to Earth. Archer grunted an acknowledgement to her request to carry out more research on the matter and she left the bridge.

Since cutting her own ties with the High Command, T'Pol had changed her appearance, revealed more of her own personality and become less severe—although maintaining something of her Vulcan aloofness, in public at least. Still, she was all sharp angles and bony elbows though and he was relieved that Dr Phlox had been so wide of the mark when he suspected sexual tension between them.

No. Archer was happy with Annabella and, tonight, he would lie pillowed on her soft curves and count his blessings.

What sounded like a deep and involuntarily uttered moan of pleasure drew his attention back to the tactical station. He was shocked to see his staunchly proper Armoury Officer with his eyes closed and a blissful expression on his face while Trip, one eye on the engineering station, rubbed his husband's lower back.

The Captain opened his mouth to reprimand the men when a soft but pointed throat clearing from the direction of the Communications station halted him in his tracks. He raised his eyebrows and Hoshi shook her head and discreetly beckoned him over. "Captain, have you any idea how sore your back gets when you're carrying a baby?" He glanced over at Tactical and saw that Malcolm was back to his usual diligent scrutiny of his console, although Trip continued with his massage.

"Point taken, Ensign."

Ignoring the muffled snigger coming from the direction of the helm, he went back to his chair. Malcolm's condition had caused a few awkward moments but, he was surprised to realise, on the whole it had just been accepted and the crew had adjusted to accommodate it.

On away team duty, while Malcolm was looking out for his crewmates, they would be looking after him. During training sessions with his security teams, volunteers would suddenly come forward to demonstrate martial arts moves and chairs and glasses of water would mysteriously appear when their C.O. showed signs of flagging.

The Armoury staff too became extra vigilant, making sure Reed didn't try to lift any heavy weights or attempt maintenance in torpedo tubes.

Although grumbling profusely about being treated "like a bloody invalid", Malcolm was deeply touched at the unprompted shows of concern and affection, commenting often to the captain about the supportiveness of his colleagues.

Sneaking another quick peek at the men, Archer saw that Trip had given up his impromptu massaging for now and was leaning across Reed's console, adjusting something or other. His hand, however, was caressing Malcolm's shoulder as he did so and his husband was smiling up at him as he worked.

Archer sighed a little forlornly, wishing someone would give him a massage while on duty. After all these years and endless adjustments, his command chair still crippled him.

Dreams of massages made him think again about Annabella, who would be coming off shift around now. He stood and worked a kink out of his spine. "I'm taking an early lunch today then I'll be catching up on some reports in my quarters. Commander, you have the bridge."

Tucker looked up and grinned. "Aye Cap'n. Give m' regards to Miz Larsen."

Archer ambled towards the turbolift. "Will do, Trip."

It was only when he heard laughter as the doors closed that he realised he'd been had.


Enterprise was safely home and berthed, medals had been presented and the fanfare of her return was over. Now Malcolm was on a moving staircase, feeling nauseous with anxiety, peering anxiously across the concourse at Starfleet HQ and watching his crewmates being reunited with their families. His parents and sister were conspicuous by their absence—their condemnation of Malcolm's marriage and pregnancy having arrived in a text-only transmission shortly before the ship reached Earth—but Trip insisted he'd become a Tucker the moment he slipped on his wedding ring and so had acquired a new set of parents and relatives.

And here they were waiting to meet him—what seemed like hundreds of them!

Trip slid a comforting arm around Malcolm's shoulders and steered him towards the gathering of his clan: "Yer forgettin' to breathe again, darlin'. That's it, an' how about ya smile for me too?"

Managing only to twitch up the corners of his mouth, Malcolm braced himself as a wave of Tuckers bore down on him. First to arrive were the children, all of whom were hugged and swung around by Trip, then came the sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins.

The engineer was engulfed with excited people—then, quite suddenly, tears were being shed over the loss of Lizzie Tucker. Just as suddenly, laughter echoed again as new spouses and offspring were introduced and Malcolm felt a little left out. He wasn't forgotten though, as Trip extricated himself and came over to draw him into the crowd. "Hey y'all, ah'd like to introduce my husband, Malcolm. Make `im welcome but be gentle about it—he's havin' our baby."

A thick blanket of silence descended at Trip's announcement and Malcolm flushed as all eyes were suddenly on his stomach. Memories of being singled out for ridicule as the small, shy, nervous child, who failed all his exams at boarding school, flooded his mind, and an unpleasant rush of panic clawed its way up his spine. He wanted to flee but a gentle hand squeezing his shoulder kept him in place: "Hello Malcolm, please don't be upset—they're just a little surprised. Most of them didn't know about the baby until just now. I'm Trip's mother and this is my husband Charles."

The woman gestured towards a tall, handsome man with greying hair and the same shade of blue eyes as her son. He stepped forward and happily wrung Malcolm's hand: "We're very pleased to meet ya Malcolm. Welcome to the family!"

Momma Tucker, a diminutive, homely woman who complemented her large voluble husband perfectly, took her new son-in-law by the arm. "Now, sweetheart, you look a little pale and I think you've been on your feet for quite long enough. Let's go find a place to sit while Trip talks himself hoarse. You can meet the others one at a time when they've worn themselves out asking him questions. No point in tiring yourself unnecessarily."

Watching the exchange between his mother and husband, Trip grinned broadly "Ah won't be long, Malcolm. Momma'll take good care of ya meantime."

Nervously, Malcolm nodded and let the woman lead him to a quiet bench in a corner of the concourse, her husband going on ahead to clear a path through the crowd. Soon, he was sitting in the shade and drinking a glass of cold water, magically procured from somewhere by his mother-in-law, which, he was disturbed to note, was trembling along with his hand.

Seated opposite, Charles jnr smiled at him and he suddenly saw, quite clearly, exactly how his husband would look in about twenty-five years time. It was as if the older man had read his mind: "Yeah, we look kinda alike an' talk the same way too. Fortunately, his momma's genes gave `im his brains and a dash o' common sense. He didn' turn out too bad!"

He glanced out at the seething mass of Tuckers, still milling around on the concourse. "Sorry if the gang spooked ya. They all wanted to come an' do the "hail the conquerin' hero" thing an' we hadn't the heart to stop them. We ain't had much to celebrate lately, so we've gone for it big time!"

Sadness washed over Malcolm as he remembered Trip's overwhelming grief and anger after his kid sister's death in the attack on Earth—heralding their mission to find the Xindi. "Yes. I…I'm so sorry for your loss. I saw how badly Lizzie's death affected Trip and it must have been, at least, equally hard for both of you."

Charles jnr nodded, his face suddenly sombre. "Yeah. Those were dark days. But we're real glad ya were there for Trip. Ah know how hard he made it for ya—he felt so guilty that he wrote us sayin' he didn' know how he was ever gonna make it up to ya—but ah think that was when he realised how much ya meant to `im an' that he'd better do somethin' about it."

Memories of Trip's emotional declaration of affection, then of several disastrous dates and misunderstandings after that, made Malcolm chuckle involuntarily and he found that Momma too was a mind reader!

"Trip was born with his foot in his mouth and his heart on his sleeve, Malcolm. He went into space as a brilliant, impulsive, immature young loudmouth but he's come back a fine man and his family's pride and joy. You've had a lot to do with that, helping him to start to grow up and look beyond himself. We've seen him change for the better since he's had you in his life."

Blushing furiously, Malcolm was relieved to see his husband coming towards them, a selection of infant Tuckers trailing behind him like ducklings. "Hey, darlin'. Ah brought ma nephews an' nieces to meet ya. Everyone else is gonna wait until the homecomin' party tomorrow night but the kids'll be in bed then—so here they are now."

By the time the youngsters had been returned to their parents and peace reigned again, it was time to catch the shuttle to where their new home awaited them. Trip's godmother, Great Aunt Minnie, had recently died and left her modest house and furniture to him and his husband. The property and its contents were sound, if old-fashioned, and both men were grateful for the woman's gift—looking forward to having a place to call their own.

Families were still being reunited as they re-crossed the concourse, and the mere sight of the Starfleet uniform made total strangers come forward to welcome them back and thank them for their efforts in the Expanse.

Trip was touched and delighted by it all but Malcolm seemed to be growing more withdrawn the longer it went on. Gradually, the engineer began to understand: even those he'd never met before in his life appreciated Malcolm more than his own family ever had.

"Darlin', yer folks ain't worth it an' they don't deserve ya. Ah know ya wish it was different—an' so do I—but even Phlox can't make the blind see if they don't want ta."

Malcolm stopped walking and stared at him. "Trip, is EVERYONE in your family a bloody telepath?"

Sniggering, Tucker patted his husband's stomach. "C'mon darlin', like ya said to me a couple of months ago, we got our own li'l family right here. Now, let's get you home so ah can carry ya over the Tucker-Reed threshold before that bump o' yours gets any bigger.


The following evening, at the Tucker family homecoming party, the Tucker-Reeds were swamped by good wishes and gifts from family members and friends. Trip returned from packing another load of baby clothes and toiletries into his parents' groundcar while Malcolm was paying one of his frequent visits to the lavatory so, taking the opportunity to catch her while she was alone, he sidled up to his mother, who was sitting watching his father take part in a rather undignified novelty dance.

"Hey Momma! So…what d'ya think of Malcolm? The pair of ya seem to be hittin' it off alright."

The woman smiled and drew her son in close for a hug. "I think he's a dear, and the best thing that ever happened to you—so that makes me happy."

Trip laughed and returned the hug: "An' ya don't mind that he's not a girl?"

Frowning, she pushed him back so as to look him in the eye: "Why should I? You're in love with him and he absolutely ADORES you. What else could I ever want?"

Trip sat up straight: his husband was not normally so forthcoming. "Did he tell ya he adores me?"

Looking thoughtful, she shook her head: "No, but his eyes did. He has such expressive eyes—and they positively sparkle when you're around."

Uncharacteristically blushing, Trip ducked his head and she smiled, weighing her words. "Seriously though son, I'm worried about him. He's so crazy for you that he's taking an enormous gamble with his life to have your baby."

Trip looked a little indignant "Ah didn' force him, Momma. He volunteered, even after he knew the risks. Dunno why, but he's kinda like that—always wantin' to jump into the firin' line."

Even to his own ears, he sounded rather defensive and he wasn't terribly surprised when his mother gave him a playful slap on the ear: "Use the brains you were born with, Trip. You told me yourself what an awful family he's from. All of his life, his parents have rejected him and the big message they've been giving him is that he can never do or say anything right. Wouldn't that make you feel like there was nothing about you that was good? Dammit, he'd have had it easier as an orphan!"

Momma was into her stride now: "And how does someone who's never been shown love know how to show it to others? For Malcolm, the only thing he has with a recognised value is his life and being so willing to give it up for others is the only way he can show them he cares."

Trip felt distinctly uncomfortable: "But Momma, he tells me he loves me. He don't need to go takin' chances to prove it."

She sighed, exasperated: "HE feels that he does, son. He TELLS you he loves you but, deep down, he can't convince himself that the telling's good enough, so he makes sacrifices to prove it. He's so grateful to you for loving him, Trip, but he needs to know he's doing well and making you happy too. Be sure you tell him how terrific he makes you feel and how special he is for being able to do that." Her frustration switched back to anger: "Lord help me, if I ever meet his parents, I'm gonna bang their heads together."

Their heart-to-heart was interrupted when Malcolm reappeared, arms folded tightly across his chest and distress evident in his taught expression. Both Tuckers jumped to their feet but Momma reached him first. "What is it, sweetheart? Sit down and tell Trip all about it and I'll go get you a nice strong cup of tea."

Malcolm nodded his thanks and tried to smile but his anxiety was glaringly obvious and Trip frowned at him worriedly. "Say somethin' Malcolm, yer scarin' me."

Taking a deep, quavering, breath, Malcolm uncrossed his arms and held them rigidly at his sides. As Trip's eyes widened in surprise, he gave a wail of misery: "Oh Trip! I'm turning into a woman!"


On each side of the chest of his pregnant husband's tee shirt was a large, damp circle and Trip did the only thing that made sense to him at that moment: "Momma!"

Mrs Tucker was already on her way back with Malcolm's tea when she heard Trip's urgent cry. Even from a distance, she instantly saw what the problem was and struggled to control her amusement at the stunned and horrified expressions both men were wearing. Abandoning the cup and saucer, in favour of increasing her speed, she immediately took charge of the situation "Trip, get my coat then fetch the groundcar. I think Malcolm will feel better someplace quieter."

Trip hurried off to do his mother's bidding while she helped Malcolm to put on his own jacket "Its okay, sweetheart. I'm sure this is all perfectly normal. When I was expecting Trip, I leaked like a damned sieve. Although you won't be able to breastfeed, your body's been mimicking a lot of the usual changes of pregnancy and I expect this is just another one to add to the list. I'll call Dr Phlox to make certain, but I don't think there's anything to worry about."

By the time Trip returned, Phlox had been consulted and had confirmed the relative normality of the situation. Malcolm was now flushed, flustered and apologising profusely for causing a stir. Momma hugged him: "Hush now, sweetheart. There's no need to be sorry. You're just one big mess of hormones at the moment so, as far as I'm concerned, anything goes. You're still my kick-ass son-in-law, even though my grandson's messing you around a little just now!"

She steered him outside and he managed a shy smile for her as she opened the groundcar hatch. "Trip, its late and he's shivering. Put my coat around him and both of you cuddle up in the back seat while I get the heater going."

As Mrs Tucker drove them home, Trip nuzzled close to Malcolm's ear: "Hey darlin' how come ya let her call ya "sweetheart" but ya'd break ma legs if ah tried it?"

Despite his wet tee shirt and acute embarrassment, Malcolm managed a grin for his husband. "I'm not going to contradict my mother-in-law. If Momma says I'm a sweetheart, then I'm a sweetheart."

Grinning, Trip pressed a gentle kiss to his lips "Yes you are. An' am real glad yer all mine!"

Phlox visited his patient weekly to monitor him and argue about his date of delivery, concerned that he was already beyond the doctor's recommended stage for giving birth. The arguments proved futile, however, as Malcolm remained determined not to have the baby early unless it was absolutely essential for its safety, not willing to see Charlie consigned to artificial gestation if he could continue to carry him himself.

"I've told you before, doctor. I am NOT letting you lock my child away in a lab with nothing but machinery for company! I'm sure Charlie will let me know when he's ready to be born and you'll be the first person we'll call when that happens."

Wincing as Malcolm attempted to get himself and his bump up a stepladder to hang curtains in the living room, Phlox caught him by the back of his tee-shirt and dragged him back onto the ground "Oh no you don't, Mr Reed. You suffer from high blood pressure and dizziness at present—your husband does not. He can hang the curtains." Seething, Malcolm reluctantly abandoned his task: "No he bloody well can't. That's why I'm doing it in the first place. They'll end up looking like rags by the time he's finished with them."

The doctor sighed: "Then I'LL do it, under your tutelage, of course."

Phlox climbed the ladder and spent a difficult hour adjusting and readjusting the window treatment to Reed's satisfaction. At long last, the job was deemed reasonably acceptable. "I suppose that'll have to do for now. Thank you for your help, doctor."

The Denobulan smiled "It wouldn't have been necessary if you'd delivered the baby when I recommended. You'd have been back to normal by now and able to run up those ladders."

Malcolm's glare had the intensity of a small sun "I won't tell you again, doctor…"

Gathering his instruments, Phlox admitted defeat. "As you wish, Lieutenant. I can only hope that the child will be more cooperative than you are."


"My God, Trip! Its nearly 3am—and where's Malcolm?"

Tucker shivered in the cold night air and found himself answering in the pleading wail, which had always tended to be his boyhood response to his mother's use of that particular tone of voice. "He's in our bedroom with the door locked an' he won't speak to me. Ah can't take much more of this, Momma. Can ah stay with you an' Poppa for a while?"

The door intercom clicked off and the lock disengaged but, on entering, Trip found himself confronted with his mother hurrying downstairs, Poppa sleepily following in her wake as she threw her coat on over her floral nightdress. "No Trip, you can't. This isn't the same big house you grew up in. I have your cousin Tom's triplets staying while their parents snatch a weekend away for their anniversary and they arrived with two dogs, a hamster and four rabbits. I can't take much more either."

She turned to her bewildered husband. "Its OK Charles. Just feed `em and look after them like you did with our own kids. I'll be back before you know it."

Pulling him down for a farewell kiss, she turned her attention to Trip and propelled him right back the way he'd come. "Alright son, now drive. You can tell me what you've done to poor Malcolm on the way."

Gaping like a landed catfish, Trip obeyed, only remembering how to speak when they were out of the driveway and speeding back towards his home. "Ah didn' do anythin'! He jus' went' all quiet on me for the whole day then started cryin' at bedtime. When ah asked what was wrong, he damn near took mah head off! Said ah was a boor—hell, ah don't even know what that is—an that ah don't care `bout `im. But that ain't true, Momma. Ah love `im more then ever!"

His mother was already shaking her head "Son, how many times am I going to have to say this to you? Hormones! They're the bane of a woman's life and, for a little while, they'll be the bane of yours. I'm not letting you off the hook though, honey. I'm sure something must have set Malcolm off like that. Did something unusual happen beforehand?"

The engineer frowned in thought and his tongue came out and lodged itself at the corner of his mouth, suddenly presenting Mrs Tucker with the memory of a juvenile Trip trying to master long-division for the first time!

"Momma, there ain't…oh! Uh, yeah. Well…he's been havin' baths lately, `cause they help his backache, but ah was busy workin' on the nursery an' didn' wanna stop to help `im in an' out, so ah told `im to take a shower for once. Of course, Aunt Min. was only a skinny li'l woman an the basic cubicle was fine for her, but its kinda skimpy on space for Malcolm's bump…an, well, he kinda got wedged inside."

Her head in her hands, Momma sighed "You laughed at him, didn't you?"

Trip shrugged "Course ah did! It was funny as hell. He was all wet an' soapy an yellin' an fussin'. Got `im out no problem once he calmed down a bit. Nobody got hurt."

Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed his mother giving him a rather harsh glare "Sure, Trip. Nobody got hurt." She sighed: "I've had a hard day with the triplets, son, so I'm going to take a nap. Wake me when we get there and, meantime, try meditating on the word "hormones" and imagining what Malcolm feels like being 24/7 bed and board for your son."

Muffled sobbing was still audible outside the bedroom door when Trip and his mother entered the Tucker-Reed home. Trip knocked on the door and called out for his husband to open it—receiving a less than positive reply: "Go to hell, Commander. You've slept around in your time, you can bloody well do it again."

Momma's eyebrows went up then she smiled as her son's colour ripened. She tapped on the door: "Malcolm, sweetheart, its Momma. I'm not here to make excuses for Trip, I just want to see you're alright." There was a surprised pause, then "I'm fine, thank you, Mrs Tucker. I'm sorry he got you out of bed to bring you on a wild goose chase. Please have him take you home—or make yourself comfortable in the guest room."

Despite herself, Mrs Tucker grinned. NOBODY did "stiff upper lip" like the English and, although Malcolm's nose was blocked from crying and his voice hitched with sobs he was fighting to control, he still remembered his manners!

She tried again: "Thank you, sweetheart, but I'm staying right here until you let me in. You don't have to talk to Trip—or even see him—if you don't want to, but I think you need a hug right now and I'd be happy to oblige."

For a few moments, all was quiet then the bedroom door clicked open and Trip glimpsed his husband—puffy-eyed, red-nosed, overwrought and miserable—then Momma slipped inside, ordering Trip to stay in the hallway with his mouth firmly shut!

As a child, Malcolm had, largely, been ignored by his parents—being too quiet and shy to be of much interest to either of them. Now, faced with such maternal warmth and concern, he felt like a lost desert traveller finally stumbling upon an oasis.

Mrs Tucker gazed at the sorry sight before her: Malcolm's tee-shirt and shorts gaped as they strained to cover his bulging stomach and, apart from the repercussions of his crying marathon, he looked dishevelled from his abortive shower and had come out in a hormonal rash which made him look like an acne-ridden teenager. She immediately made good on her promise and hugged her unhappy son-in- law. "Come here, sweetheart. Tell me all about it."

After 20 minutes of pacing in the hallway, Trip heard water running in the en suite bathroom then, an hour and a half later, his mother finally opened the bedroom door and let him in. Malcolm lay on his side, propped up a little on pillows, with a cushion supporting his distended abdomen. He was bathed and clean- shaven, his hair brushed into neatness, and he looked comfortable in Trip's baggiest tee shirt and a pair of his sleep shorts. The room smelled of lavender and baby powder and the fragrances evoked a comforting memory for Trip, of childhood bath times and bedtime stories.

On the nightstand, stood a spray bottle of Mrs Tucker's lavender cologne, and a glass containing the remnants of one of Phlox's nutritional drinks sat beside the remains of a bar of Momma's favourite chocolate—the kind she kept in her bag as an emergency comfort food and had used to soothe away many a grazed knee in Trip's early years.

Nervously, the engineer approached the bed—suddenly realising Momma had slipped past him and out of the room. "Hey, darlin'. Guess ya didn' marry the brightest star in the sky. Sometimes ah forget what yer goin' through an' sometimes ah don't even consider it in the first place. Ah'm sorry for hurtin' ya Malcolm, an ah really do love ya an' care about ya."

In response, Malcolm said nothing but just opened his arms to his husband and Trip, overcome with relief, all but fell into them.

After a prolonged cuddle and a few remorseful tears on both sides, the engineer sat up and studied his pregnant partner—a disquieting thought suddenly occurring to him. "Did you let Momma give ya a bath?"

Malcolm blinked, surprised. "Well, yes. She offered, and you know I can't manage by myself."

Again, Trip felt uncomfortable. "Did mah Momma see ya naked?"

Unable to resist a sideswipe at his husband, Malcolm shrugged "Of course. How else would I take a bath? I don't have anything you don't have and, since she raised you, she'll have seen THAT often enough."

A blush was rising up from the engineer's neck to his hairline "But THAT was a whole lot SMALLER when it was mine."

Although knowing exactly what Trip was trying to say, Malcolm was deliberately obtuse: "Well, I wouldn't say you're a whole LOT smaller than me—but, anyway, I'm sure she wasn't comparing."

There was a moment of stunned silence from Trip, then Malcolm smiled "You're right, love, I didn't marry the brightest star in the sky, did I? I kept on my shorts until I was getting dried off and, even although its much nicer when you do them, I washed and dried all the interesting bits myself.

"Momma helped out now and then, but mostly we just talked then she put me to bed and gave me a massage with baby oil, like your father did for her when she was expecting. It really helped all my aches and she's going to show you how to do it. And she says we should burn lavender oil in the bedroom to help me relax: she's left me her perfume to use on my pillow until we get some."

He paused for a second, trying to recall something he knew he'd omitted "Oh, yes, and she's going to get me one of those little cropped jogging bra things Hoshi used to use in the gym, so I can wear pads when we're out anywhere. You've no idea how bloody embarrassing it is when I start to leak all over my clothes. Since I'm not one of you hulking great Tuckers, she thinks she should be able to get something in the women's extra-size range to fit me."

Only just managing to pull himself back from executing a repeat performance of his catfish impersonation, Trip listened to his husband talking calmly and knowledgeably about ante-natal matters then smiled at the magic his mother had worked on him. "Anythin', you want, darlin'. Anythin'."

The following afternoon, Trip thanked Momma and gave her a grateful hug as he dropped her off back home. She ruffled his hair and kissed him: "You're welcome, son. All I did was mother him a little: he's never had that before and he sure as hell needs it right now. I had my mom to lean on when you and the others were on the way and its just so helpful, when you feel tired and sore and huge and unattractive, if there's someone around who's been there and can reassure you that things do get better. Now go home and spoil him a little. He deserves it."


"Trip, you great pillock, wait for me! I can't walk as fast as you and I can't see my feet to get off this bloody escalator"

Turning at his husband's exasperated cry, Tucker smothered his laughter as Malcolm did an odd little off-balance two-step to disembark from the moving stairway. He was wearing one of Trip's more subdued shirts and a pair of women's extra-size maternity pants but the ensemble still did nothing to disguise his bulk and, as he lumbered towards Trip, people were openly gawping.

"Darlin' ah'm sorry, ah thought ya were right behind me. Here, take m' arm and calm down."

Flushed and breathless, Malcolm complied. "God, if it isn't bad enough having to go to some parenting class to keep Phlox happy, did it have to be in the outer reaches of Starfleet Medical? It must have started about 10 minutes ago and all I want to do right now is lie down."

A pretty young nurse at the door of the classroom smiled at them as they arrived. "Ah, you must be the Tucker-Reeds, go right on in—the vid's just beginning."

Both men had known what a Caesarean birth involved but, by the time they'd watched the vid, Trip was nauseous and Malcolm had begun to hyperventilate. A few moments later, just as they were recovering, the pretty nurse appeared at their side and thrust an artificial, but frighteningly life-like, newborn into Malcolm's arms. "Alright, gentlemen, why don't you join us at the changing table while we learn the proper way to deal with infant defecation."

Later that evening, as they lay in bed—Malcolm on his side, complete with cushion—Trip fed his husband comfort-chocolate and stroked his hair. "Don't worry `bout it, darlin'. It wasn't a real baby."

Malcolm sniffed and blew his nose loudly "That's not the point, Trip. I dropped it on its head! I'm going to be a dreadful father. I can't even change a nappy! Oh God, you'll have to keep me away from Charlie. I might kill him. At the very least, he'll be terrified of me when he senses how nervous I am."

Trip spooned against his miserable husband and slid his arm round him to gently rub his stomach "Darlin', it'll be different when its for real. Yer the one who's been Charlie's home for months now an' he'll feel safe with ya. He's gonna recognise yer voice too, an know he's okay. Don't think ah don't know ya talk to him when ya reckon ah ain't around!"

Leaning over, he kissed Malcolm then hitched up his tee shirt and planted a kiss on his bump, before slipping an exploring hand inside his shorts. "Its gonna be fine, darlin'. Now why don' ya hand me over that baby oil an' let me see if ah can put the smile back on yer face!"


When Malcolm was just over 8 months pregnant, Phlox gave up badgering him and opted for a quiet life. "Since you have no intention of following my advice regarding your…um…"confinement", I've decided to attend a medical symposium on Jupiter Station throughout this week. I may, therefore, be a day late for my next visit. I trust that won't be any inconvenience, lieutenant?"

Glowering at the doctor, and feeling like a capsized turtle, Malcolm used the headboard of the bed to haul himself onto his feet before waddling off to the bathroom, his bladder giving the impression it was ready to burst after Phlox's prodding and poking. "Bloody relief, more like. Don't hurry back."

As the door closed behind him, the doctor finished studying his scan results and smiled. "I believe the human expression is "Famous last words!"

Four days later, Trip was busily assembling a rocking chair they'd bought for the nursery and, when the doorbell rang, he frowned at the interruption. His frown disappeared, however, as he opened the door.

"Cap'n! Its great to see ya. Malcolm's catnappin' right now but that don't stop us havin' a yap. C'mon in. Make yourself at home."

Jon flopped on the couch and unbuttoned the neck of his shirt a little further: "Its hotter than hell out here, Trip. Are you guys managing okay with the heat?" Laughing, Trip handed him a tall glass of cold beer, which he downed with obvious relish. "Ah was born to it an' Malcolm…well, he's swearin' a lot."

Archer grinned. "When's the baby due?"

Tucker made himself comfortable in the chair opposite and frowned. "When its drained the life outta him an' he's climbin' the walls with the pain."

The Captain shook his head: some things never changed. "Is he still coping with the pregnancy?"

Grinning, Trip fetched him another beer "Barely. He's awful tired, an' the baby's so big now that its pressin' on his spine, so it hurts constantly but he won' admit it. Oh, an' he's cranky—REAL cranky! If he sits in an armchair, he can't get up again. If he walks around, his ankles swell. He can't get comfortable in bed an' sleeps sittin' up or he gets heartburn. I have to help `im in an' outta the bath and help him get dressed—he really hates that. Oh an' we can't go anywhere unless there's a toilet. Ah swear, Jon, if peein' was an Olympic event, he could compete for Britain!"

A sound in the hallway made both men turn to see the lounge door opening. Archer gasped "Jeez, Malcolm. You're enormous!"

Malcolm looked pale and exhausted, his health obviously suffering, but he quirked a tired smile for his friend: "Its good to see you too, Captain."

Trip was instantly on his feet and guiding his husband to a chair where, panting from the heat and the effort of his short walk, he more or less toppled into it. The captain tried not to laugh at the sight of his ex-Armoury officer floundering in an armchair, peering at him over a massive bump. In an attempt to distract himself, he clumsily attempted to make casual conversation.

"So, Malcolm…seen any good movies lately?"

The Englishman grinned: "Its alright to laugh, sir. Everyone does when they see me. I suppose it rather looks like someone tried to push a melon down a drinking straw. Trip's father's afraid to be alone with me in case I explode—or fall on him, perhaps! I'm a tad unsteady on my feet since my centre of gravity shifted and I feel like I weigh about a ton."

The afternoon passed pleasantly, with news of how other crewmates were spending their long, post-mission leave, and reminiscences about the more light-hearted moments they'd shared on Enterprise.

Malcolm had worn a steady path back and forward to the bathroom throughout Jon's visit, so the captain was undisturbed when, yet again, he smiled up, pleadingly, at his husband. "Trip, love, could you help me to the lav please? He's moving again and it always makes me feel like I'm going to have to…AAAGH!"

The cry of pain brought both men to his side. His eyes were squeezed shut and he clung to Trip like he was a lifeline. The engineer looked panicked: "Darlin'! What's happenin'?"

Sagging against Trip, his teeth clenched and sweat pouring down his face, Malcolm, at last, managed to find his voice again: "How…how the bloody…hell should…I know? It feels…OH! Oh, Trip!…like he's trying to tunnel out of me. I think he's…stuck crossways."

In desperation, he wrenched himself out of Trip's grasp and tried to stand up, hoping a change of position would relieve the pain, and his startled husband leaped to give him some support. Leaning forward, hands on Trip's shoulders, Malcolm continued to moan in agony: "Oh it hurts! It really hurts! God, I can't handle this! Please, Trip, you've got to help me. "

Trip looked more scared than Archer had ever seen him, horrified at his own helplessness in the face of Malcolm's suffering. It worried the captain too that Malcolm, whose high pain threshold was legendary, was in such agony as to actually be ASKING for help.

Archer decided to give his command skills a little exercise: "Trip, call Phlox and tell him to get his ass back down here: Malcolm can't take much more of this. I'll wrap him up so he doesn't chill. As soon as I've called the doc, we're taking him straight over to Starfleet Medical."

As he headed for the bedroom, to get a blanket, he heard two anxious voices automatically chorus "Aye sir!"


After several fraught hours of waiting for Phlox, refusing analgesics in case they harmed the child, doing futile breathing exercises to try to ease the pain and having countless irritable exchanges with his partner, Malcolm "delivered" the long-awaited Charlie.

Apart from the post-operative accelerated healing, the Caesarean procedure was carried out in much the same way as it had been for over a century and a half. Malcolm was awake, agitated that he could feel the doctor "rummaging around" inside him, but numbed to pain. Although rather nauseated, Trip tried to reassure him, while his body was cut open, the baby removed and several essential systems, which had been re-routed to support the child, returned to their original configuration. It wasn't easy!

The birth of their live, healthy son was overwhelming for both men and something of a triumph for Phlox. Once a significant amount of relieved tears had been shed, and he was satisfied that his husband was no worse than exhausted by his ordeal, Trip sneaked their new child out into the waiting area to meet his grandparents—and be held by his godfather, Jonathan Archer.

Jon grinned at the perfect little human who was squalling in his arms "Congratulations Trip! He's just incredible. How's Malcolm doing?"

Trip watched as his family gathered round Jon to coo over the new arrival "Phlox says he'll be okay in a couple of weeks. His body's taken a helluva beatin' and the surgery was pretty extensive but the doc's gonna let him home tomorrow, so long as he promises to stay in bed and behave himself."

Suddenly, Trip looked a little awkward: "An', Umm, he, uh, wants to have another kid."

Jon was relieved that he'd handed the baby over to Momma Tucker before the engineer made his last statement: "He WHAT?"

Trip shrugged. "Ah hope its jus' the drugs talkin'—but he seemed pretty serious an' determined. Maybe he'll go off the idea once Charlie's been home for a while!"

Rocking the newborn in her arms, Momma looked up thoughtfully : "Trip, honey, when you arrived, once I'd seen you, there was nothing and nobody that could have stopped me from having another baby. Unless Dr Phlox puts his foot down and refuses to carry out the procedure, Charlie'll have a little brother or sister. Bet on it!"


"Malcolm! What in hell's…Are you doin' what ah THINK yer doin'?"

As Trip arrived next morning, at the door of the hospital room, Malcolm looked up and smiled. "Its alright, love. It was Dr Phlox's idea. He says I only have a small amount of milk—not enough to provide Charlie with more than a snack and it'll dry up in a few days, once my hormone levels return to normal—but he can benefit from the antibodies just the same. He's had formula milk already but he has quite an appetite and wanted to feed again so, since my chest felt like it was about to explode, Phlox suggested I give this a go and its working really well now."

To Tucker's surprise, Malcolm was calm and looked serenely competent in the way he handled his son. His eyes seldom left Charlie and, although tired, they sparkled with happiness as he admired the tiny miracle he'd been largely responsible for producing.

Pausing to change sides, he beckoned his husband closer: "Aren't you going to come in, love? I'll give him to you in a minute—it won't take him long to drain me dry!"

Still somewhat dumbfounded, Trip sat on the edge of the bed and studied him. Everything Malcolm had eaten over the past month had seemed to go straight to putting weight on the baby and bypassed him completely. He was very thin now and, from this distance, Trip could see that he hadn't suddenly developed breasts but was just swollen around the nipples—which themselves were much more prominent than normal. The voracious Charlie was determined to make good use of them—tucked under his birth-father's arm, supported on a pile of pillows to bring him within reach of the teat he was currently sucking on.

At last, Trip chuckled "Well ah'll be damned! Malcolm, d'ya think it'd be too kinky if ah kissed ya while ya were breastfeedin'?"

Trying to look as if he was giving the matter some thought, Malcolm smiled "I suppose it depends what part of my body you're going to kiss!"

Trip leaned in and pressed his lips firmly against his husband's, rearing backwards as the door opened and Phlox entered the room. "Good morning, Commander. Please don't let me interrupt—just be careful of the baby."

Blushing, Tucker moved to the chair beside the bed "Hey, its OK doc, ah can wait until we get home. He IS getting' home today, isn't he?"

Phlox was washing his hands and turned to the bed as he dried them "I'm just about to check the Lieutenant over but I don't foresee any problems. Might I trouble you to take charge of your son for a few moments?"

Charlie had stopped feeding a couple of minutes earlier and had already disengaged himself from Malcolm, so Trip was able to scoop him into his arms and begin burping him while the doctor scanned his patient and inspected his already-healing incision.

"Commander, you must make sure that Mr Reed rests. Keep him in bed but let him get up for a short period each morning until he starts to tire, gradually increasing the duration until he feels well enough to manage a whole day. He'll find standing up quite difficult, let alone walking, for quite a while—so please be on hand to assist him as necessary." He slipped a small padd into Trip's jeans pocket, "These are your instructions in more detail." He shot a meaningful glance at Malcolm: "They aren't open to negotiation. Now, if I can borrow Charlie for a spell, while his daddy gets dressed, I'll make sure all's well then you can be off home."

Jonathan Archer was waiting in the groundcar's driving seat when Trip pushed his husband's anti-grav chair through the doors of Starfleet Medical. Getting out to meet the couple, Archer opened the hatch then, concerned at how light a weight he was, gently lifted his former tactical officer into the car while Trip took care of the baby. Malcolm was mortified "Captain! There's really no need. I'm fine!"

Jon grinned and settled him on the back seat "I'm sure you are—but frankly, Malcolm, you look like hell, so I'm not taking any chances. Mrs Tucker has warned the clan to leave you be for a few days before visiting, and I'll be off back to Annabella once you're all settled in at home, so you've no excuse not to rest. With a family like his, Trip has plenty of experience with babies, so take advantage of it."

He studied the exhausted figure as he fastened the seatbelt around him. "You've done a great job getting Charlie this far, Malcolm, now he needs you to get well and strong again to help him through the next eighteen years or so!"

Trip was securing their son in his baby seat and harness, and strapping himself in, as Malcolm glanced across at them. Comparing the two fair heads, generous mouths and upswept noses, he smiled: "Oh God! Eighteen years of coping with a Trip Tucker clone!"

And the prospect bothered him not at all.

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