Title: Special

Author: Weebob

E-mail: weebob@fsmail.net

Fandom: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Pairing: Tucker/Reed, Cutler/Phlox

Rating: PG

Status: Complete

Feedback: Aids the learning process!

Archive: EntSTCommunity and, well, if its on your list, take it! Any others, please ask first.

Spoilers: Passing reference to "The Expanse."

Summary: Malcolm learns the meaning of love.

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.

Author's Note: Just a short tribute to the late Kellie Waymire, who didn't appear on "Enterprise" nearly as much as she should have. Sorry it's a bit sappy and clichéd.

"We really shouldn't meet like this, Lieutenant. People will say we're in love!"

Lifting his head to see his visitor, Malcolm Reed hissed with the pain that slight movement caused him. "I very much doubt that, Ensign. Especially since you and Phlox are due to tie the knot in a fortnight's time."

Liz Cutler finished squeezing her petite form through the slight gap in the fallen boulders and tentatively picked her way across the loose rubble of rocks to the trapped man. "Ah, but goodness knows what ship scuttlebutt will make of you and me, alone together by a babbling brook, with soft lighting and enough intoxicating substances to have ourselves quite a party!"

Reed groaned: "I'd rather you didn't mention the babbling brook, if its all the same to you. The intoxicating substances sound quite nice, though."

Finally reaching his side, the woman put down her medkit and the plasma lantern she carried, freeing her hands to try to move some of the smaller rocks that pinned the injured Lieutenant to the floor of the cave. "Yeah, well … let me take a look at you, then we'll negotiate. Phlox would have a fit if I just started pumping you full of drugs without assessing your condition first."

Carefully, she began clearing away as much of the rubble as she could, watching Malcolm's reactions as she did so. His grimy face was streaked with a mixture of perspiration and blood and he spoke a little thickly but insisted he was "fine"—so she didn't bother mentioning that her scans showed numerous fractures and massive internal bleeding.

Ever the security officer, Reed was studying her face as she read the scanner and she made sure he saw only her usual, cheerful, visage. "Well, nothing here that the amazing Dr Phlox and his glamorous assistant, Ms Elizabeth, can't handle."

A rumbling crash from the back of the cave startled them both. Malcolm glanced over towards the sound then back to Cutler. "You should go, Ensign. Leave me something for the pain and I'll be okay until they can get me out."

His words were brave but she could hear his voice shaking with pain and fear: the babbling of the brook had become noticeably louder since the last rockfall.

Preparing a hypo, she behaved as if he hadn't spoken so he tried again: "Ensign. Get out now. That's an order."

Smiling sweetly, she pressed the instrument to his neck. "After all the trouble I had squeezing myself in here, Lieutenant, I'm not moving! It's the first time being small has worked to my advantage in this job. Besides, I promised Trip that I'd stay with you. He's fit to be tied right now."

The painkiller worked quickly and Reed's voice seemed a little steadier: "Trip's worried? About me?"

Cutler laughed. "Of course he is! He loves you!" The bemused look on Malcolm's face surprised her. "You didn't know?"

He shifted a little and gasped as the pain broke through the medication. "I hoped he did. I … I want him to but … well, why should he? We've been getting closer since that time in shuttlepod one, but then the Xindi attacked …"

His thoughts seemed to drift and Cutler, still trying to stabilise him, worried that he was fading. "Lieutenant! You were saying?"

Blinking, he seemed to rally. "Oh! Oh, yes. He - he doesn't seem to have time for me anymore. And, anyway, I know I'm rather difficult to put up with… It probably wouldn't work out."

Noticing that the water in the now-dammed brook was definitely getting closer, the medic positioned herself so that he couldn't see it and, having done all she could meantime, concentrated on distracting her patient, gently cleaning his face with an antiseptic wipe and smoothing his dusty hair back from his eyes.

"He loves you, Malcolm. He told me himself, before I came down here, but I already knew anyway. It shows in a million little ways, you're just scared to let yourself see them."

The Lieutenant closed his eyes for a moment, letting a sudden wave of nausea pass. "There's nothing to see, Liz. He doesn't love me. If he loved me, why treat me like … like …" his voice cracked and he bit his lip, trying to control himself.

Cutler shook her head. "Malcolm, that time he blew up at you just after Lizzie was killed—that wasn't because he didn't like you anymore. Oh no. He knew you cared about him enough to roll with the punches and let him vent the anger and the pain he was feeling. Still is feeling, I'd say - only now its because he's sorry he hurt you and he's so damned scared of losing you."

Reed's expression was incredulous: "But … but I drive him mad! I'm so different from him: such an oddball …"

Although the water had almost reached him now, he was too preoccupied to notice. Cutler took his hand: "Have you seen Phlox's toenails?"

The injured man shuddered: "No, but I heard … and about the tongue scraping. Ugh."

She grinned: "Now THAT'S an oddball - in somebody's book, but not mine. I love him, Lieutenant, so the oddness doesn't matter. And, although I'm just as strange to him, he loves me. Its not going to be an easy marriage: he has three other wives, who each have two other husbands, but I'm still marrying him, because we LOVE each other. Like you and Trip. You do love him, don't you?"

The water was lapping against him now, but Malcolm didn't notice. His eyes misted and he swallowed hard. "Yes, I do. With all my heart."

She patted his hand. "Then tell him! The minute you see him again, tell him - and let him love you back. Life is very fragile and fleeting - far too short to put these things off for another day. If someone is special, make damn sure you let them know it while you still can!"

Somewhere nearby, shouting could be heard then Travis Mayweather's face appeared at the opening Cutler had entered by. "Hi guys. We've moved most of the boulders from the cave entrance and we'll be coming in any minute now. Liz, a medical team's on standby and Phlox is with them, waiting for you. Malcolm, don't worry, you'll be back home in time for tonight's movie."

Cutler nodded, gently raising Malcolm's head a little to keep it clear of the water. It didn't look like he'd realised though. His eyes had a far away look in them and she re-checked her scanner, concerned that his vitals were becoming erratic. "Hold on, Lieutenant. Trip'll be here any minute and you'll see that I'm right. Count on it."

After what seemed like an eternity, the cave mouth was open again and the water surrounding them began gushing away. Through the settling dust, they could see Phlox and the medical team, but, stumbling across the debris ahead of them, was a frantic engineer. As he reached them, he dropped to his knees and grasped Reed's hand.

"Malcolm! Oh God, Malcolm. Ah've been so scared for ya. The Doc's on his way. Its gonna be okay."

People were surrounding them now, heaving rocks away from the casualty and congratulating Cutler for keeping him alive. Phlox fussed over his fiancée and his patient simultaneously, hooking Malcolm up to an IV and making him ready to be moved, working round Trip, who was determined not to budge any distance at all from his beloved!

Malcolm, in the midst of the melee, was now well-dosed with pain relief and gazing up at Trip in the most adoring way. He smiled sleepily up at the engineer. "Liz says you love me."

Trip coloured and shot a sidelong glance at Cutler, who stuck her tongue out at him. "Yeah… well she's right. Ah do love ya, Malcolm. In fact, I wanna marry yah, if yah'll let me. Will ya?"

Reed's eyes were drifting closed, but he perked up a little as Trip's words sank in. "Mmm. Probably, after I've had a little nap. Never said so, but I love you too, Trip. Always will."

The medical team closed in and carefully lifted Malcolm onto a stretcher. By the time they all piled into the shuttlepod, he seemed to be asleep—but Trip remained at his side, holding his hand, while Cutler continued to monitor his condition, freeing up the doctor to carry out a few more running repairs.

Suddenly, Reed spoke, startling them all: "Doctor, you're a very, very lucky man. Liz is an extremely special woman…" Pain-free at last, and feeling slightly tipsy, he smiled up at the now-blushing Ensign, "… so make damn sure she knows it, every day of her life."

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