Title: Improv

Author: Qzeebrella

E-mail: qzeebrella@yahoo.com

Date: 08/14/2003; reposted to AE 1/4/04

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash

Disclaimer: The show and it's characters belong to Paramount, no profit is being made. The beginning of the poem Malcolm says was created by Greg Proops on the Brittish Version of "Who's Line is it Anyway?" from the words 'And yes I know what you are thinking' are mine. As is the story below.

Archive: EntSTSlash, Luminosity, Archer's Enterprise

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Rating: NC-17, for sex (like how I get your attention?)

Status: This chapter is complete and stands on it's own

Series: Journey Into Love

Number in series: 1

Warning: AU

AN: AU, and warning for angst due to some reference to child abuse, possibly other abuse—nothing graphic.

Charles Tucker the third had just finished a long day's work where he had to make minute, intricate adjustments to the warp core for Enterprise. He was glad Jonny had chosen him to be the chief engineer and looked forward to the day that he shipped out on the beautiful ship, under his good friend's command. But now he needed a break. He decided to go to a bar, which had advertised an amateur Improv comedy night. It might be a good place for a chuckle or two, or at least one of the old groaner type jokes.

When he entered the bar, he saw the place was fairly crowded. Oak tables and chairs with padding built in, the covers a maroon red, dim lighting for the crowd, a well lit, small stage, slightly elevated from the floor, it had a relaxed feel. The crowd had just finished clapping so a new act should be coming on soon.

"Hi, I'm Jacob Hyslop the next person up is from Starfleet, says his roommate from college dared him to come up here. Let's hear it for Lieutenant Malcolm Reed."

Trip joined the polite applause and gasped as he caught sight of the lean, graceful man taking center stage. God, this guy was gorgeous, Trip wondered how he could have missed seeing this man on board station before. Maybe he had just arrived. Malcolm Reed had to be about 5 foot 7 or 8, high cheekbones, wavy dark brown hair, and he moved with an almost predatory grace.

Malcolm got to the microphone, thinking to himself, 'how do I get myself into these situations', and briefly glance out onto the crowd. Stopping his perusal of the tactical situation when he caught sight of a blondish man in a Starfleet uniform. 'Lord, that blonde is lovely.' He thought, a 'boy next door' sort of handsomeness, he looked to be somewhat muscular, Malcolm wondered what the man's position in Starfleet was and whether he'd be amenable to trying out a few new positions with him.

Malcolm tore his gaze from him and started speaking. "I am a cricket player. I stand upon a pitch. And when the ball is thrown, I give a little switch. And when the game is over, I retire for a beer. And, yes I know what you are thinking, and yes I am a flaming queer. I much prefer to have a man to love and hold. I much prefer a man to kiss when all is told. I hope to find the right man for me, one who suits me to a tee. I shall look forward to the time he and I meet, and until I do this bar I shall treat. Drinks for everyone here in the house, now I shall retire as quiet as a mouse."

To cheers of joy, mostly due to the fact he was buying everyone a drink, Malcolm made his way over to the gorgeous blonde's table. "Hello there, I'm Malcolm Reed may I sit with you?"

"I'm Charles Tucker the third, my friends call me Trip. Sure you can sit with me."


Trip was excited, hopeful, anxious, despairing, and as nervous as hell. To have this graceful, gorgeous man head right to him as his improv was finished was wonderful. Malcolm's voice reached his ear and his English accent warmed him down to his soul. Trip smiled to himself as he acknowledged that the voice warmed other parts of him as well. Trip would love to listen to this man speak his whole life. Trip reminded himself that it was much too soon to be thinking of love and a lifetime.

Trip knew why he was excited and hopeful. To have this gorgeous man to make love to, 'that's have sex with!' he tried to emphasize to his brain, would be glorious. 'It's too early to be thinkin' love. Heck you've barely met him, so stop it!' He stressed to his brain. Trip knew why he was feeling hopeful as well, from the look in Malcolm's stormy blue eyes he found Trip as good looking and desirable as the engineer found the Brit.

Trip also knew why he felt anxious and nervous. He would be shipping out for a long, deep space mission soon, so he had little time to get to know this man, to explore him, and cherish him, as he deserved. Trip sighed to himself, 'Okay, listen up no more of this cherish, love, makin' love stuff. You can not be in love with this man.' He thought he heard part of his brain snicker.

Trip also knew why he was nervous, since he could only hope that Malcolm truly wanted to continue whatever they had started. He looked at the gorgeous man as he ordered a Guinness from the waitress who had hurried over as soon as the Brit had sat down at their table. Trip melted at the look in the man's eyes, 'I could gaze into those eyes forever and not be bored.' He thought, then sighed. 'Look,' he tried to tell himself, 'you only have now, you're leaving soon so there is not goin' to be a forever, a lifetime with Malcolm. Got that!'

Trip felt a wave of despair at the thought, and realized that it was useless to try to fight his feelings. He may have only now to be with Malcolm, but he had fallen hopelessly in love. It'd be better to stop fighting himself and savor whatever amount of time he would have with the gorgeous man. He could only hope that the other man would be willing to spend as much time as possible with him before Trip had to ship out. Whatever time he managed to have with Malcolm would likely have to last him a lifetime.


Malcolm watched the blonde as he approached the table, the man looked very nice in uniform. Malcolm could only hope he would see him out of uniform soon. The blonde seemed to be attracted to him; if what he saw in those sky blue eyes was any indication. The slightly older man also seemed a bit nervous.

After he introduced himself a waitress came to take his order, as he was letting the young woman know what he wanted with only part of his attention on her. The rest of his attention was on Charles; he wanted to call the blonde by his given name, so as not to blend in with everyone else. Charles' expression seemed to go in between attraction, uncertainty, nervousness, sadness, and determination. Malcolm hoped with all his heart that the blonde would decide to give him a chance.

Malcolm knew he could not hope for very much as the blonde was gorgeous. The armoury officer sighed with sadness, what chance had he to attract such an amazing man as this? 'Face it, you have nothing that would interest such a handsome, friendly, and openhearted man. You are just a skinny little runt with a girl's cheekbones, eyelashes and mouth. How can you expect someone to even like someone who looks like you?'

'For that matter, how can you expect someone like him to interested in someone as repressed as you? And would there really be a chance at any kind of meaningful relationship with someone as special as I think he is? We are both in Starfleet after all and we are likely going to be assigned to two different locations. Long distance relationships are cold and forbidding, just think of dear old mum and pops! You are about to go on the mission, the ship, take the position you have hoped for and worked hard for in the last couple of years. You are about to be armoury officer in charge of the security staff on Enterprise. You leave in just a few short weeks, you can not invest your emotions in this man, just because he's gorgeous and friendly.'

'If you do, you will only be broken hearted when you are separated from him due to accepting your post on Enterprise and his being elsewhere. And if by some miracle we served on the same ship, Charles would eventually break it off due to you just not being good enough for him. You will never be good enough for him'.

Though he knew from just the few moments he had been with Charles that the blonde was the right one for him. Malcolm knew he was in love.

Malcolm also knew that all he would really have, all he could for was now. What he could have, no matter how little, with this gorgeous man would have to be enough to sustain him, warm him for a lifetime. For Malcolm knew he would love this man for the rest of his life, and that the most he could hope for was for the man to like him even just a little, remember him for just a bit of time, and some really good sex. Malcolm would have to concentrate on living in the moment, paying attention now, so he would have many moments to reflect on and memories to warm him on that inevitable day Charles Tucker the third walked away from him.


Trip started off with some tentative flirting, to make sure he and this gorgeous man were on the same page, were both interested enough to want more. Trip did not want to risk a misunderstanding where Malcolm only was interested in friendship. Trip had mistakenly flirted with someone who had no interest in other men before and did not want to repeat the embarrassment. As time went on and it was apparent the flirting was mutual he began to relax.

Trip noticed though that the other man seemed to be holding back a bit. So Trip began watching those stormy blue eyes, that extraordinarily good looking face, and listening to the tone of that melodious voice. The engineer worried that perhaps the other man's interest wasn't what he thought it was for just a short time. The man across from him seemed to be a bit shy, looking up at him through those long lashes of his and blushing, giving him half-smiles, and that twinkle in his eyes as Malcolm displayed a wry sense of humor. The sensuous man, the man sitting across from him that so many in the bar were eyeing with lust and desire, seemed oblivious to his attraction.

Trip wondered how the man could be so unaware of how charismatic, how beautiful, how sensuous he was, did he not see himself each time he looked in a mirror? Malcolm must have been pursued and flirted with often with looks like his. Especially since he also seemed to have an inner beauty that no matter how hard he tried to conceal it peeked out from behind his formidable defenses every so often.

Trip sensed that the man across from him was very vulnerable, easily hurt by others, and from a lingering sadness in his eyes from time to time had been hurt often in the past. The engineer longed to wrap the younger man in his arms, shield him from being hurt—whether on purpose or accidentally by others—for a lifetime. The older man that it would take a long time for the man across from him to truly believe and trust that someone could love him, want to be with him for a lifetime. However, with his leaving soon he did not have the time to help teach this man that it was safe, ok, and necessary to trust others not to hurt him. He did not have the time to help Malcolm truly believe that he was lovable, and for that he would always be sorry.

Trip could not turn down the position on Enterprise, if he did so, turn down the one thing he had always wanted to try to be with this man wherever Malcolm should work. He'd end up regretting it and resenting the younger man. If he had to walk away from Malcolm before he could convince him he was lovable…

Trip sighed heavily. They were finishing the last of their drinks, maybe tonight and the rest of the time they had together, short as it would be considering he was due to leave on Enterprise in a couple weeks. Well, maybe, he could cherish the man's body, show with each touch, each word, each kiss, and each look that he cherished the younger man and hopefully imprint on Malcolm the memory of each loving touch. That way whenever they could be together again, maybe Malcolm would remember him with fondness and allow him to try to convince the younger man to give him a chance to start a long term relationship with him. Maybe if he could cherish Malcolm now, he would eventually be able to reunite with him and cherish him for a lifetime later.


Malcolm watched Trip as they sat and talked. The older man looked at him with a wistful, anguished expression from time to time, as if having been faced with wanting to rescue him and not being able to do so. However that could not be quite what the other man was thinking, for Malcolm was in no danger. Though the handsome man had seemed to forget that they were in the middle of a crowd, Malcolm made sure to keep part of his attention on what was going around them. Keeping his ears tuned for any warning sign, eyes scanning the crowd from time to time, you had to always be on the alert. Always prepared for something to go wrong. It was a lesson he had learned any time he was at home and in his father's or mother's presence. It was a lesson beaten into him throughout his life. Repeated at school, on missions, even at college, there was no such thing as true and complete safety. No such thing as absolutely no possibility of attack, he knew that, better than he knew his own name.

Malcolm made sure to flirt with Charles. Let Charles hold and caress his hand. Tentatively caressing the broad, competent hand with his thumb in return. He wondered if they would head to the older man's quarters or his own. Malcolm had had no chance to unpack as of yet so he hoped they would go to Charles'.

They finished their drinks and Malcolm looked up at the older man, hardly daring to hope they would be leaving together, be lovers soon. He looked at the man's sky blue eyes and thought; "in his arms I would feel safe. There would be such a thing as safety."

"Malcolm," he heard the man say with a hint of nervousness, "would you spend the night with me? I'd really like to be with you tonight and wake with you in my arms."

Malcolm sighed, oh that sounded wonderful, a whole night of feeling safe. "Yes, I think that sounds lovely."

Charles reached out to take his right hand in his left, lifted it to his lips and kissed it. He kept hold of it as they walked out of the bar towards Charles' quarters.

'A whole night with the man I've fallen in love with. It's more than I had dared hope.'

Unknown to the other, they were both thinking this as they walked out of the bar and down the corridor.


Trip led the gorgeous man to his quarters, wondering if he was just having the best dream of his life. If he was, he did not want to wake up. Ever.

They reached the door to his quarters and Trip was tempted to lift the man and carry him over the threshold, but he remembered that he had had neither the right nor the privilege to act as a bridegroom.

He led the unusually, unexpectedly shy man to his bed and kissed him softly on those tempting pink lips. Oh, it was as wonderful as he thought it would be. Little tendrils of warmth and electricity seemed to be reaching through him and the best part was that the younger man seemed finally to be relaxing his guard a bit. Molding that glorious body to his, melting in his arms, as if trusting him completely. It was a taste of heaven. A taste Trip did not think he could live without. Oh, how he hoped he'd be able to remember the taste, savoring it in his memory for however long they'd be separated when he joined Enterprise. He hoped his soon to be lover would remember it as well and that he could find Malcolm again one day to persuade the younger man into a lifetime together.

He slowly undid the buttons on the shirt Malcolm was wearing, kissing the exposed silky, pale skin. Lord, this man in his arms was built! You would never guess at the sleek, toned muscles concealed by the shirt. Light pink nipples, hardening as he looked at them and licked his lips. He bent to take the left one in his mouth. The one closest to Malcolm's heart, hoping to brand the memory into the younger man's soul. He licked and sucked at it, hearing soft gasps.

Trip felt his uniform zipper going down, the top of his uniform taken off and felt those elegant hands caressing him. Softly at first, then light scratches and pinches, finding each of his hot spots. The engineer could not resist the temptation any more and hurriedly took off Malcolm's pants and underwear. And gloried to feel Malcolm removing his as well.

As soon as they were both naked as the day they were born, Trip backed Malcolm onto the bed. Hoping the lube was where he last remembered leaving it. Trip preferred to use lube whenever jerking himself off as it added a bit to the experience, in his opinion, especially considering he usually used scented lube. Once he had Malcolm lying on his back on his bed, he took a moment to appreciate the sight.

He looked perfect there, as if the younger man had always been meant to be there in his bed. Looking up at him with lust and just a bit of uncertainty in those eyes that were turning from stormy blue to grey as if a storm was building. From the electricity in the air, Trip wouldn't be surprised if lightning lit up the sky outside the station, in spite of the fact they were in the middle of space.

He moved to kiss, lick, and caress the younger man. Cherishing him with each touch, each kiss, and each whispered word. Hoping to erase the uncertainty and see only blazing desire in those changeable eyes. Malcolm trembled under his touch, giving little gasps, and finally arched slightly for more skin contact.

Trip moaned as he felt Malcolm start to touch him. Finding each sensitive spot easily, what kinds of touches he liked best, and moving on as if mapping him, surveying the territory, as if making sure there were no hidden treasure, no hidden danger. Oh, how Malcolm's touch made him burn, he did not know how he would be able to live without it and soon he would be on a long mission far away from the only person for him. Trip shook that thought out of his mind to focus on the now.

On the now, for the now might be the only time he got.

Trip bent to kiss, lick and tease each of the younger man's nipples in turn while caressing him. Memorizing as much of the body below him as possible. He wanted to be able to remember how each muscle twitched, the sound Malcolm made when he gasped in desire, how open and trusting he looked, and he wanted to remember the small, strange scars scattered on his sides and back. Visible only if you looked closely. The more he could remember, the clearer his memory, the better he could bring out the memory to warm him on what was seeming to be becoming a very long mission.

Trip found the lube right where he had remembered it being last and looked into Malcolm's eyes to see if what he was about to do was okay, was what the younger man wanted. Malcolm looked a bit nervous and Trip wondered if the younger man had ever been with another man before. Then he realized that with Malcolm's looks, his grace, he would have had to have been approached by other men before. Maybe it was just 'first-time-with-you' jitters. "I'd like to make love to you, be inside you, is that okay or would you prefer something different?" Trip asked gently.

He felt the man breathe deeply, saw those eyes glisten for a moment with unshed tears then saw that glorious mouth open to speak. "Oh, Charles, I want you inside me. Please make me yours." Then saw the man blush.

He rewarded the man with a deep kiss, gently exploring his whole mouth with his tongue. Thrusting his tongue in as gently, as lovingly as he hoped he would be able to enter his love's body.

Trip felt the younger man separate his legs for him, opening himself to be explored and had to close his eyes for a moment to thank whatever gods were out there for how much this man trusted him after such a little time. He tenderly prepared the man below him. Once he was certain Malcolm had been stretched enough, he pulled one of the pillows down, lifted Malcolm gently, and placed the pillow beneath his hips.

Once he had done so, the younger man lifted and separated his legs, holding on to them, presenting himself to Trip. Trip swallowed hard at the sight, then moved to cover the man and support Malcolm's legs. He slowly entered Malcolm, moving only to penetrate the protective muscle with the head of his cock. Then rested his forehead on the one below him, breathing deeply. God, Malcolm was tight, it was taking all of his control not to come right now.

Once he was sure he could remain in control he kissed Malcolm again quickly and started to slowly move further and further inside. Feeling that tight passage welcome him and surround him as he did so. Ever so slowly he went deeper and deeper until his aching hardness was within the younger man.

They were both gasping now, with the effort to maintain control and make this last. Trip paused and helped Malcolm move his legs from where they were and felt the younger man wrap them around his waist and push his hips upwards. Trip groaned and went with the momentum. Thrusting in and out of the man below him as slowly as possible. Caressing his nipples, sucking at the left side of the neck, near where it joined the shoulder so as to leave his mark. Claiming Malcolm as his own.

Trip heard Malcolm make a noise that sounded like a purring growl. He started to move faster and faster within his love, his love meeting the pace and scratching him lightly. They thrust against each other, with each other, Trip felt as if he were completely in tune with someone for the first time in his life. As if he had found home. He was surrounded by Malcolm's scent. Need, desire, and lust consumed him, lit him on fire, searing his soul and heart, so that the only thing he knew was Malcolm. Malcolm was the only thing left in the universe at that moment in time. Malcolm, the only thing that truly mattered.

He cupped Malcolm's erection in one hand and started to stroke him in time to his thrusts. The storm between them built, the fire grew hotter, until the moment Trip was consumed completely, thrilled to see Malcolm consumed at what seemed the same time and let loose. Letting the fire sweep through him, burning everything away until there was only Malcolm.

Trip watched the younger man gasp to catch his breath and recover from that soul-shattering climax they had shared. Watched as he fell asleep in his arms. Watched as Malcolm breathed deeply, face so open and full of trust, and swallowed sudden tears. It felt for one moment in time as if Malcolm and he were one. Trip knew, beyond a shadow of doubt that this man he was with was meant for him—was meant to be his husband. Trip knew he would be leaving soon on a years long mission, having to leave this man behind, and hope he could come back to him to reclaim him. It'd practically kill him to leave, but his duty, his love of engineering and exploration meant he had to go, he could only hope this man would still be available and willing to try to recapture what they had when he returned. He could not ask him to wait. That would be unfair. So for all the years they would be separated, all the years he would not have his husband…uh, his Malcolm with him his heart would ache for him. His soul would cry out to be near Malcolm. His mind would wonder where he was, whether he was safe, and if Malcolm remembered him.

And until he could be reunited with this glorious man, he hoped to one-day call husband, he would live for the times he could cherish the memory. For now, he would watch Malcolm breathe. Watch as he lay so trustingly in his arms. Falling asleep to the sound of his love's breathing.


Malcolm entered the older man's quarters with him. After looking briefly around the room to be certain of his surroundings and all possible avenues of escape he concluded that though the quarters had a lived in quality, they were far from messy or disorganized. Charles kissed him gently almost as soon as they were in the room and started to touch him softly as if trying to calm him.

The kiss was glorious, washing through him. Like sipping at a fine wine, Malcolm could not get enough of it. So gentle, so open, trickling through his body the kiss seemed to warm the furthest reaches of his soul. Brought light to even the darkest corners of his existence. Malcolm melted into Charles' arms, so very glad to have found his one safe harbor. The only safe harbor he had ever known. This kiss shone so much light within him it was like catching a glimpse of heaven. Malcolm focused all his formidable attention on this moment to engrave it into his memory. For his memories would have to last him a lifetime. It would be too much to hope this man would remember him when Malcolm returned from the long mission he was about to go on. Oh, but how glorious it would be if they could have a lifetime together.

Malcolm felt as Charles undid each button slowly, caressing his skin as if it were precious and beautiful. Yet, he was so very pallid, so lacking in good looks, not like the man he was with. At least Malcolm had worked hard to tone the muscles in his body, though they left a lot to be desired. He would never achieve the sculpted, body builder look of most people in security; he would be cursed with an always lean swimmer's build, which Malcolm found very ironic. At least he was very flexible, agile, and quick, able to catch his opponents by surprise. He had been rated as the best in both the self-defense course and hand to hand combat, mainly, he believed, due to the fact that no matter how often he fought an opponent, they underestimated him due to his lack of muscle and his somewhat effeminate appearance. Malcolm felt his nipples harden as he saw the older man lick his lips as if longing to taste them. The armoury officer gasped as he felt Charles take his left nipple in his mouth as if cherishing and savoring the taste.

Malcolm reached to unzip Charles' uniform with a trembling hand. Lowering the top and caressing the lovely muscles in front of him. Seeking with his hands, which had always been good at making small, delicate adjustments, sensitive areas of the older man. Playing softly with the older man's chest hair, giving soft scratches and pinches as he figured out what kind of touches this special man would like best. Malcolm let Charles remove his pants and underwear and moved to remove the other mans. Soon they were nude, and Malcolm was surprised not to feel embarrassed or lacking, but actually desirable.

It seemed that as soon as they were nude that the older man backed him onto the bed to lie on his back. It felt as if this was where Malcolm was always supposed to be, in Charles' life, upon his bed, looking up at the man he would always cherish in his heart and soul.

The older man looked up and down his body as he lay there and Malcolm worried that perhaps he would be found wanting. That Charles had seen what he had hoped had become barely noticeable scars and was revolted. Malcolm gave a silent thank you as the other man joined him on the bed, eyes full of desire and an emotion he had never seen directed his way before. Malcolm almost gasped, but he realized that it could not have been what he thought. For who could love someone as damaged, as lacking as he was?

Charles kissed, licked and caressed him so softly and reverently. As if he had found hidden treasure, as if the older man cherished him. Each touch, each kiss, each whispered word moved through him, washing through him like cleansing water. Filling him, drowning him in joy, filling his heart and soul with the wonder of being treated as something precious and wanted. Malcolm trembled with the joy of it and arched slightly towards the other man, wanting more contact, actually daring to hope that he truly would be welcomed and greeted with more cherishing touches.

Malcolm gloried to hear Charles moan at his touch. Finding all of his sensitive spots with ease, memorizing which touches brought the most response, charting this man's body so as to be able to recall it when he was in most need of remembering the one perfect night he was allowed to have him as his own. Each spot stroked, mapped and memorized for the long nights, weeks, and years ahead of being always alone. No spot would be left undiscovered, unexplored, for he loved all of this man. Wanted to remember everything.

He was living solely in the moment. Completely in the now, for now was all he would ever have to be with Charles.

Charles moved to lick, kiss and tease his nipples in turn. Driving Malcolm slowly to the edge, building up the waves of joy inside him. For he felt cherished, beautiful, desirable for the first and likely only time in his life. He gasped as he drowned in the sensations Charles was creating in him; in the joy he was feeling and saw the older man reach for something.

Lube. Oh god, he would want that. Malcolm trusted Charles with his whole heart and soul. Trusted him as he had never allowed himself to trust anyone before. Yet what Charles wanted had always hurt. It had always been agony. Men who he had put tentative trust in, throwing him on bed and piercing him in one stroke. Viciously pounding into him as he held back tears and whimpers, not wanting to give into the weakness. Told that it was his fault that he did not like it that it was because he was a lousy lover that it hurt and burned. Told that if he just tried harder, it would be as good as it was supposed to be. Then as soon as the other man came, he would get up after telling him all this and leave. Saying, "the only thing good about that was that you're a tight ass." Or words to that effect and leave. Every man he had trusted enough to go with, even though they were few, had done or said the same. What if he couldn't rise to Charles' expectations? It would kill him if Charles' told him he was lacking. It would hurt him more if Charles viciously took him, but how could he deny the man he loved and trusted completely? He breathed deeply, and realized that he trusted the other man enough to make it a pleasant experience. He listened as that lovely voice said, "I'd like to make love with you, be inside you, is that okay or would you like something different." It was the first time he had ever been asked. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt too much this time.

He felt his eyes tearing up with joy, instead of the usual pain, "Oh Charles," he said, "I want you inside me. Make me yours." And blushed, for he was certain he had given too much away, revealed that he loved this man who likely wanted only a one night stand.

However he was rewarded with a deep kiss, Charles exploring his mouth gently. Thrusting his tongue in and out slowly and gently as if wanting to make each moment a delight.

Malcolm separated his legs so Charles could rest in between them. Actually finding that he wanted Charles to be there—was looking forward to Charles being inside him. The older man poured lube in his hands, this was normally when the man would coat himself and thrust inside him with one stroke, but Charles did something different. He twirled a finger closer and closer to his entrance. Dipped one finger slightly inside and slowly moved it in and out of him, twirling around the muscle and creating glorious sparks inside him.

Soon a second finger joined the first seeming to scissor with the first, moving in and out of him, ever so it slowly. Malcolm wondered if the other man had only meant that he wanted to have his fingers inside him instead of his cock for some reason, but was beyond being able to ask coherently. A third finger joined the other two, and suddenly grazed at something inside him.

Oh, that felt good. He growled softly as Charles focused on stroking that magical spot. Each time it was stroked Malcolm filled with joy, felt tingles go through him, it was glorious. Those magical fingers were withdrawn from him, he moaned slightly in disappointment just before seeing Charles reach to bring a pillow to his hips. He let Charles lift his hips onto the pillow, though it puzzled him as to why he did so. No other man had ever done that. However the older man had a look of need on his face and Malcolm knew what that meant.

Malcolm lifted and separated his legs, supporting them with his arms, for the first time trusting that the man he was with would not hurt him. Charles lay on top of him and the Brit felt Charles erection press at him steadily. He kept himself relaxed and welcoming as he trusted the older man to be as gentle as possible. Charles worked past the anal muscle and Malcolm felt just a slight twinge, but instead of continuing on until fully inside him Charles just stayed where he was and rested his forehead on Malcolm's.

The twinge changed into the beginnings of pleasure as Charles kissed him again. Then Charles moved forward then withdrew in small increments, going deeper within him slowly, gradually and the pleasure grew slowly and gradually too. He felt that long, hard length go deeper and deeper until it was completely inside him, having reached his soul.

They were both gasping, trying to keep control, it seemed as if Charles wanted this to last as much as Malcolm did. The older man helped him move his legs from where they were to wrap around his waist. Malcolm pushed upward, wanting more. Malcolm felt as Charles moved within him, slowly and steadily. The other man seemed determined to touch him everywhere, stroking along his skin, his nipples, sucking on his neck, likely leaving a mark as if claiming Malcolm as his own.

Malcolm growled softly, hungry for more. Charles started to move within him more quickly; yet it felt as if the other man was letting him set the pace as they thrust again and again with each other. Malcolm felt as if he were experiencing sex for the first time, as if it were the first time he had ever done this as he and his love moved in time with each other. Perfectly moving to an unheard beat. Malcolm had found home, the one safe place for him in the universe. He was surrounded by Charles' scent. Need, desire and love consumed him, filled him with life giving water. Drowning him in Charles so that the older man was the only person in the universe other than himself. The only other person to exist in that moment of time. The only person who truly mattered.

Charles cupped his erection, wrapping one hand around it and started to stroke it in time to their thrusting. Oh, that felt so very good. It was the only time someone had done this for him. Charles' was so giving, so generous, he would never be able to thank him for doing such a thing for him. The waves of desire moved through him, drowning him, swamping him, and washing him away as he came. Charles seeming to be washed away at the same time. Sweeping everything away until there was only him and Charles.

Malcolm gasped as he tried to recover from that soul-shattering climax they had shared. If this were to be the only time he had with this man he would love forever, then it would be enough. It was more than he ever expected, more than a failure like him deserved, more than he had ever dreamed possible. Malcolm wrapped his arms around Charles' his love, his other half, the man he would have given anything to be his husband, and felt truly safe. Felt truly beautiful and precious. Now that he had found his one safe harbor, it'd practically kill him to give it up to serve on Enterprise.

However, serving on a ship, exploring deep space was the only thing he could remember wanting almost as much as he wanted Charles. So he would take his post on the ship soon, go away for years, and have only the memory of his love to sustain him through all the lonely nights to come. And when he returned, his love being so handsome, so giving, so generous, would likely have been claimed by another, thus out of reach. But that would not matter, for he had been lucky enough to have now. Lucky enough to have found a safe harbor if only for one night. For that he would be forever grateful.

He fell asleep in Charles arms, knowing he would be safe, knowing that it was likely the only time he would be within his safe harbor.


Malcolm woke up lying on his side, feeling the hard planes of a man's body behind him, and yet he felt completely safe. He had never woken up within a man's arms before, never had someone spoon with him, and normally being this close to a man while naked meant pain. Yet he felt safe and suddenly remembered why.

He was with Charles. The man he would always think of as husband though he would likely be seeing the last of him today. But for now he could lie as still, as quiet as possible, let Charles sleep as long as possible, and remain safely within those strong arms.

If Charles was willing to learn of his plans for the near future this morning, if he wanted to talk instead of just hurrying Malcolm out the door, then Malcolm would share the fact he was about to set off on the first long-term, deep space mission. Malcolm allowed himself to hope for a moment that Charles would want to hear of his plans instead of saying, "well last night was nice, have a good life," and shoving him out the door.

Malcolm listened closely to the other man's breathing. Took in the older man's scent. Barely stroked the skin of Charles' arms, so as not to wake him, but hard enough to feel the texture, each hair, each dip and valley, cherishing this opportunity to show his love even in such a small way.

He wished that this moment of peace, this time of feeling completely safe could last forever. He longed to be worthy of being wrapped in this man's arms for a lifetime. Memories tried to intrude on this moment of peace. Attempted to erode his feeling of safety.

Memories of his father hitting him. Cutting him as he failed yet another task. Memories of his mother's disappointed looks, of her telling him, "if you just tried harder, your father would not have to hurt you." The coldness in their eyes, how they had never looked at him with love. Yet they had never looked at him with hate either. Just indifference. Which cut deeper than the knife that left small scars all over his sides and back. Each one representing another failure. Each one entirely his fault. For if he had tried harder, if he had been smarter, stronger, as brave as a Reed should be, then there would have been no scars. He would normally be haunted by these memories in dreams.

Memories of class mates focusing their bullying on him. For he was always the smallest, always alone, thus easy to prey upon. He had always stuck out, no matter how hard he had tried to fade into the background. For he always was at least a year younger than his classmates were. By the end of high school he was 2 years younger than the next youngest kid was, since he had skipped 3 grades. Hated, taunted as being week, forced by one of the boys to kiss him, always told that "ooh, are you going to go cry to daddy and mommy? You spoiled brat! Your daddy the admiral gives you anything you want doesn't he?" Words that usually echoed in his mind as he slept.

Memories of college years, where he had gained the respect of few classmates, his self-defense teacher and the one who taught him hand to hand combat. Where he learned how to safely use and defuse explosives, tactical planning, and so many other things. He longed to be able to protect others from harm, to keep them safe, to kill only when there were no other choice. He knew he wanted to be an armoury officer and had dared to express that out loud. Then the ones he had thought respected him said, "the best you can hope for is to become a consultant, work from a desk. Never in the field, you're too small to be truly effective." Though these words would also taunt him in dreams, he fervently believed he was effective as a security officer. It was the one thing he was any good at. He also believed his small size gave him an unseen advantage of others underestimating him. But still the memories of this taunting of his ambition haunted him. Memories of the few men he had trusted and had been harshly treated by plagued him. Or they would normally during a night.

Last night however his dreams had been full of Charles. The older man's laughing face, at a joke he told. Those glorious sky blue eyes looking at him in desire. Memories of gentle touches, soft words, and delicious kisses, keeping all the bad memories away. As if the memories were afraid of the light Charles seemed to emit into his heart, soul, and mind.

Last night he had, even in his dreams, remained safe. He had felt cherished. He had felt as if he finally had found a home.

He hoped he would have the opportunity to tell his love of his posting on Enterprise and how he would be leaving soon, only so that the other man might consider being with him for a bit longer. Perhaps even until he had to leave for Enterprise. Before last night he would not have considered it truly possible for Charles to want to be with him for the 2 or 3 weeks before Enterprise left. However, now, he dared to believe it possible.

He felt as Charles started to wake and smiled. He was determined to tell his love of the post he would have on board Enterprise, of having this man to love secretly until he had to leave. For though Malcolm dared to hope Charles would want to be with him for a few weeks, he dare not hope for more.


Trip woke slowly, savoring the feeling of warmth and quiet joy that suffused his heart. He had had a damn good life so far. A childhood filled with the normal mischief making, full of hugs from Mama and Papa, good friends that went frog hunting with him in the lower grades, teased the girls in a friendly respectful way—the way a southern gentleman should—while in high school. He had been taught never to stand for someone being bullied, never to stand idly by when he could step in and stop someone from being hurt. He had made many a friend that he still was close to today by reaching out to the loaners, the misfits, and those that others tried to bully. His college years full of friendship, gentle kisses, his first time making love with a generous, gentle, compassionate man. He was damn lucky. Felt so most days of his life; gave thanks to whatever deity had smiled down on him to give him such a blessed life. Made it so he could reach out and help people who were hurting. And though he felt privileged most of the time, he was feeling especially lucky, especially blessed, especially privileged this morning. As if he had found the most precious treasure in the universe.

He smiled his widest smile, tightened his arms around the man he was ever so lucky to be able to hold. Then his soul cried in anguish to know he would have to leave him behind as he took his post on Enterprise. He would have to leave his heart, his soul, and his other half behind.

Trip pushed that thought out of his mind and focused on the now. On holding the man in front of him, he could tell that the man was awake and gave a silent prayer of thanks that the man had not removed himself from his arms. For that meant that Malcolm liked being held by him, that he might be able to persuade the younger man to stay with him, be with him for the next few weeks. Thus having the opportunity to store memories to hoard and cherish for the coming lonely years. He decided not to tell Malcolm of where he would be posted soon, just that he expected to be reassigned, for he worried that if Malcolm knew how far away he was expecting to go that the shy man would refuse to invest more time in him. And he wanted as much time with Malcolm as the beautiful man would give him.

"Good mornin' darlin," he whispered as he kissed along that slender, tempting neck. The neck that just begged to be kissed lovingly, hungrily as it had been made for. Trip could definitely get used to waking like this every morning of his life and could only hope that one day in the future, when Enterprise returned he would be able to find his Malcolm and persuade him to take a chance on marriage.

"Good morning Charles," Malcolm's voice a soft whisper that caressed his ears. "Thank you for last night, it was so beautiful and spectacular. I am so glad I took the risk and approached you. I had almost decided to just leave the bar instead."

Trip tightened his arms briefly around his love, so glad he had taken the risk too. If he had not approached him, if Malcolm had turned to leave the bar instead he did not know if he would have followed. He would have likely assumed the man would not be interested and he may have never have discovered this glorious love.

"Well darlin' I'm glad you took the risk too. Last night was amazing." Trip said, kissing the shoulder peeking out from the blanket he had pulled over them before going to sleep. "I think we both need a shower this morning though, how's about joining me?"

Trip felt the man startle a bit and hoped desperately he had not pushed too hard, too soon.

"I think I would like that Charles." Malcolm said with that lyrical accent of his.

Trip stepped out of bed and reached out with his right hand to help Malcolm out. He placed one finger gently underneath the younger man's chin and captured his eyes. "I really like it when you call me Charles. Can you tell me why you chose to do that instead of call me Trip, since I told you most of my friends did." He kept his voice as gentle as possible, made sure that there was no censure, no reprimand in his tone. Unknown to him his eyes glowed with gentleness and joy. Trip heard Malcolm gasp and saw him blush, barely able to restrain himself from devouring the younger man whole at seeing how gorgeous he was when he blushed. Trip however had a strong feeling that he would have to step quietly, go slowly, be as gentle as possible, as patient as possible, for as long as possible so as not to accidentally hurt this terribly shy man.

Trip saw a somewhat worried expression flit across the man's face. Then listened carefully as he spoke. "Well," Malcolm's voice was a bit shaky, Trip doubted he would have noticed the tentativeness if he had not been on the watch for whatever it was that was bothering the younger man. "Though I know you told me most people call you Trip, I wanted to…well…I wanted last night to be as special as possible. I wanted to call you by your given name and hear you call mine." Malcolm was blushing furiously and Trip knew his own eyes were filling with tears of joy.

His Malcolm was so brave, so daring, to risk telling him that.

He leant down to kiss Malcolm thoroughly, caressing the soft skin that covered hard muscles. "I'm glad darlin'. Last night was very special for me too." Trip gently led his love to the bathroom, adjusted the shower to a nice temperature, then turned once again to this glorious man he was lucky enough to be with and held out a hand in invitation to join him.

Trip looked his fill at the lean yet muscular build, remembered how flexible the younger man was, how responsive and felt the desire that had been temporarily appeased by their lovemaking last night rise again. The engineer saw the shy look that somehow combined desire, uncertainty, was ever so vulnerable, and a bit haunted as if he had been hurt too often by others. "Now you don't have to do anything you don't want to." Trip assured the smaller man, vaguely aware of an urge to go hunt down all those who had hurt this sensitive man. "Though I would like it if you helped me wash, if you want to go first and alone, then have me shower alone that'd be okay."

He saw as relief and trust suffused those changeable eyes. "I think I would like to wash you Mr. Tucker." Oh that wicked smirk! Trip was struck in the heart by it, it was so mischievous, so lusty, and those eyes lit up with a teasing light. Trip took a mental picture of that smirk, tried to engrave that moment into his mind and soul. The engineer gloried when Malcolm took his hand and stepped into the small shower with him.

This was going to be another memory to cherish, even if the only thing the younger man would agree to do with him now was wash up.

Unknown to him Malcolm was planning to tell him of his new post over breakfast, for now though the younger man was savoring this chance to wash his beloved.


Malcolm got into the shower, wondering how he had been lucky enough to find this man. He looked the man up and down, such a lovely build, one that would not be out of place in a security officer. Strong, capable, gentle, and talented hands, Charles had used them to caress each part of his skin last night. Malcolm was surprised to see how long the man's penis was. A bit bigger than that of the other men he had been with and yet when this man had took him it had not hurt. The older man had been so careful with him as if touching something precious and fragile.

Malcolm saw a washcloth hanging on a hook in the shower and a bar of soap in the soap holder. He took both in his hands and looked Charles in the eyes while soaping up the cloth. Those sky-blue eyes held his gaze, full of desire, hunger, and yet a fierce control as well. Malcolm decided to wash the other man's back first and gestured to him to face the wall.

Charles did so without question, trusting him completely, no hint of even the slightest hesitation, Malcolm was astounded at how open and trusting this man could be. Malcolm reached up a bit to wash the right shoulder. Slowly tracing the shoulder blade, then stroking up and down the spine, over to the other shoulder, and then over the rest of the back. Lingering over the hollow just above the best looking bum he had ever seen. Just grazing the top of the cheek then slowly washing up towards the shoulder blade.

Malcolm then carefully knelt behind his love and started to wash each leg from the heel along the back of the leg to the back of the kneecap. Back down to the heel, slowly stroking Charles with the cloth. He loved the harsh breathing and the soft gasps his love was making at such treatment. The armoury officer considered the most effective, most distracting strategy he could employ, wanting to drive his love temporarily mad with desire.

Malcolm slowly washed from the back of the knee up, going higher and higher in small increments. Stroking along the inner thigh, carefully examining all of the skin he washed, committing each centimeter to memory. Teasingly drawing ever closer to that bum, then stopping just short of touching it, earning a soft drawn out moan from his lover. The armoury officer stopped all together for a few seconds and saw how the older man was grasping a bar in front of him as hard as he could. And yet Charles did not turn, did not try to take the control away, he was just whispering, "please Mal, please, more. Touch me please, anywhere, everywhere."

Malcolm was astounded that the man was still willing to let him call the shots. "I'll let you turn around in a moment." He reassured Charles, "I'd like it if you could hold onto the bar while facing me, so I can wash you at my own pace. Whatever it is that I chose to wash."

"Yeah, I think I can do that." Charles said in that glorious accent, Malcolm wished his voice sounded as nice. "Just as long as you keep touching me Malcolm. Oh please."

"All right," the younger man said. "You may turn around now, then grab hold of the bar again.

Charles did so and Malcolm looked up from where he was kneeling, saw the older man grab hold of the bar behind him, checked to make sure it would be a comfortable angle, for he did not want the older man's arms or shoulders to be over stretched. Once he was certain all would be well he met the other man's eyes.

They were blazing with such heat Malcolm wondered why steam wasn't rising around them. Malcolm stood slowly, careful not to touch his love or brush him while doing so. Keeping his eyes focused on those sky blue ones until he finished standing. Then he looked up and down the man, the slightly fast breathing, the proud erection, keeping himself in firm control. Muscles trembling as if barely able to prevent himself from touching the younger man.

Malcolm soaped up the cloth, stepped just a little closer and started to wash the man's neck touching the older man with just the cloth over his right hand. Then he washed Charles chest, soaping up that lovely chest hair, paying particular attention to the nipples, softly stroking them through the cloth, then flicking them briefly. Charles was whimpering and moaning with need now.

The armoury officer slowly washed the abdomen, circled the navel then swirled one finger covered with cloth inside it. Then washing the hips briefly before carefully kneeling before Charles again, hearing that voice say, "oh god, you're so beautiful. Please, please."

Ah, he had driven the man a bit mad if in his lust he saw Malcolm as beautiful.

Malcolm looked up at Charles, "please lift your left foot, if you need to brace yourself on a wall so as to not strain yourself you may do so."

Charles moved his arms to brace himself one on the wall behind Malcolm, one on the wall beside him, then lifted his left foot. The younger man washed the foot thoroughly, though not as slowly as the rest of the body, not wanting to unbalance the man. Then he lowered the left foot and gestured to indicate that he wanted to wash the other foot. Once he did so, he washed the front of each leg and the sides from ankle to kneecap. Stroking the skin through the cloth, giving random licks and soft bites once the soap had rinsed off.

The other man's gasps, whimpers, and moans were almost constant now. Malcolm washed each kneecap then up the powerful thighs, along the inner thighs, teasingly drawing close to Charles need, but not touching.

Finally he took pity on the man and lifted his balls gently with one hand, washing them, stroking them through the cloth. Then he wrapped Charles penis with the cloth and used it to stroke up and down him, while flicking his tongue over the head of the penis. He stopped the tongue flicking long enough to say, "when I swallow your cock, you may let go of the walls and hold onto my shoulders, but I would prefer to set the pace. Is that alright?"

Malcolm saw Charles nod while gasping and smirked. He had driven the other man to speechlessness; his campaign was almost a complete success. He opened his mouth and enclosed the head of the older man's penis. The other man moved his right hand to the younger man's left shoulder; as if afraid that if he moved both at the same time he'd collapse with the effort.

Malcolm smiled as best as he could with Charles penis in his mouth, then flicked his tongue over the head quickly for a few moments, before slowly encasing more of the long, slightly thick organ. Advancing and retreating, steadily gaining ground until he managed to reach the base of the strong shaft. Working his throat muscles to swallow along the hard length in his mouth, up and down while fondling those perfectly shaped balls with his right hand. He felt the first signs of orgasm, released all but the head of the penis and sucked hard. Charles came into his mouth, his face so open and awe- filled Malcolm reached orgasm as well, never having been touched. That delicious seed spurted down Malcolm's throat, as Malcolm swallowed all he could. Letting only a small sip wash away with the water. He released the beautiful penis reluctantly, helped the older man out of the shower, to sit on a handy chair to recover, engraving each gasp, each breath in his memory.

Hoping the man would listen to him as he told him of the post he was about to take, how important it was to him, and desperately wanting the other man to spend as much time with the armoury officer as possible before the younger man left. Malcolm would tell Charles over breakfast, which they should be getting to as soon as they dried off.


Trip didn't think he'd ever be able to stop smiling. Here he was sitting at the small table in his tiny quarters, just about to have breakfast with the most beautiful, graceful, and generous man. From the time he had seen Malcolm his soul had lit up, likely due to recognizing it's mate. He was humbled that the younger man who had shadows of pain flickering in his eyes trusted him so completely and looked at him with trust and joy. The flickering shadows only occasionally obscuring their brightness, their intelligence, causing them to glaze over as if the memory associated with the shadow was trying to take over, trying to drown Malcolm in misery and pain.

Trip would love to know the names of all the people who had caused the shadows, who had hurt his love. Each one of them needed to be visited by him so they could have a long, detailed discussion on what happens to someone who hurts those closest to a southern gentleman. He was certain a long discussion like that would cause those whom had hurt his love to think twice before hurting anyone again. That is if he left them in any condition to think at all.

Trip put aside his need for vengeance to focus on the now as Malcolm brought breakfast to the table. "Bangers and Mash", the Brit said setting down a plate of what looked like sausages and potatoes. It looked good so the engineer tucked in, sipping his coffee from time to time and wondering why the other man looked a bit nervous. Wondering why the younger man was biting his lips and fiddling with the cuffs on the shirt he had put on as if nervous about speaking up. Trip fervently prayed that Malcolm wasn't about to say he had to go, that this would be the last the engineer would see of him, but he had to know. The southerner was determined to make sure the gorgeous man knew he'd be willing to listen to anything he said.

Heck, Trip knew he'd be willing to listen to this man talk about a hidden fascination for bugs and be able to suppress most of his own repulsion for the creepy, crawly things.

"Malcolm," Trip said as softly, as gently as possible. Not wanting to do anything to scare the man away. "It's okay, I can see you want to tell me somethin' important. I promise to hear you out before reacting and I promise not to yell at you if it upsets me. If it bothers me, I'll explain as rationally as possible why it does." He saw the man take a deep breath, briefly clench his fists, and stop biting his lips, having likely gathered up whatever courage he needed to, to say whatever it was the younger man had to say.

"Well I came on board the station yesterday afternoon, but I'm due to be posted elsewhere. Though I'll be leaving in just a few weeks, I'm hoping you'll consent to spending as much time together as we can." Malcolm said.

Trip was so full of joy and excitement he wondered if he could die from it; he'd get to be with his Malcolm for another few weeks. "Sounds great to me." Knowing his voice was a bit scratchy due to trying to keep all his emotions inside.

"I'd also like to tell you of the new job I am going to." Malcolm said, "I'm really looking forward to it. I've worked so hard to get the qualifications needed for it, and have somehow earned the respect of the captain who chose me for the post I will be taking. Though the captain only knows me from my service record, when sending me the invitation to take the post he said that my record, my previous CO's recommendation, and all reports of my general character show that I am an exemplary officer and the best available at my job."

Trip nodded, this man would be damned good at anything he set his mind to, especially if he enjoyed the work. "So what's your new post?" He asked, knowing that would tell him what kind of job the younger man had.

"I'm the new head of the armoury staff for the ship Enterprise," Malcolm said, continuing…

Trip knew that if it were possible to die from joy that would be the moment he would. For now he was going to be able to serve with his love, on the same ship for the next few years, miraculously given the time he would need to convince the younger man he was lovable and loved. Given the time to cherish him, and finally convince him to become his husband.

…in a voice that glowed with excitement and pride. "It's an extraordinary opportunity to be able to explore the galaxy and work with the latest in weapons technology. The captain will be my direct superior, the one I report to, and I will be given the opportunity to design and build some of the things I have ideas for. The captain is sure the chief engineer, whomever that is will be willing to let me experiment as long as I don't overtax any systems or blow out the nearest bulkhead."

Trip swallowed, "I'm sure I will not mind that, I might even lend a hand in building whatever it is you want to build. I'm the chief engineer, we're going to be able to work together."

The older man saw a brief look of joy overtake the other man's expression, then despair, was it because he didn't want anything more than the next few weeks?

"Oh, Charles, what about the regulations concerning fraternization with superior officers? Wouldn't they prevent us being together now?" Malcolm's voice was tearful.

Trip blinked in surprise, "no, Starfleet only says that the person with the lower rank should approach the person with the higher rank. Which you did, though neither of us knew that at the time we were going to serve together. No relationship is forbidden, even the captain can have one as long as the person with the lower rank approaches him and the crew person's work review is handled solely by the first officer. It's a bit different from the earth based services due to the fact people might be servin' in the same ship or on the same station for years at a time. So we're safe. I'd like it if we could arrange somethin' though." The engineer gathered all his courage, considering his words carefully so as to express himself as clearly as possible without unintentionally shoving the other man away.

"I would like the opportunity now and on ship to get to know you better, spend time with you, and if you want make love with you." Trip saw a look of hopeful disbelief on the younger man's face. "I think that for now you would want to keep your own quarters, to have a place to go to be alone if you want to be alone, but I'd like to spend as much time with you as possible. I'd like to keep you as a lover, become your friend, and if you wish to remain my lover on board, I'd be more than happy. It'd be a privilege. And since I don't want to pressure you in any way, if you want only the next few weeks…well, I'll do my best to accept that. So what do you say?"

*** 'Well, Malcolm old boy,' he thought to himself, 'you must have died and somehow snuck through a tiny crack into heaven with no one in charge being the wiser. For you have never done anything that would make it possible to enter heaven legitimately. This must be heaven, a handsome, gentle man actually wanting a long-term relationship with you. A man who has expressed a desire to become your friend, want you as a long term lover, what was the likelihood it was real?'

The armoury officer discreetly pinched himself and felt it. 'Well, you're not asleep, and since it isn't likely you'll get into heaven considering that you've always been a failure, this must be real.' Malcolm shook himself a little at that thought that seemed to carry his father's voice.

If the man in front of him truly believed he was worth the effort of becoming a friend with. If he truly felt that being in a long-term relationship with him was worth all the trouble it would be, considering everything. Then the voice in his head that echoed his parents' or his classmates' words might actually be wrong.

He might actually be a decent person, a nice person, though he still found it hard to believe, now that he considered the possibility a seed seemed to be firmly planted in his heart, mind and soul. A seed of hope, that had taken root and seemed to be the source of his new found hope that he might actually be decent and nice.

"I'd like to see a copy of the regulations, just to make sure." Malcolm said, "not that I doubt your word, I just need to see the words myself." "That's alright," Charles said, "I don't mind that you need to make sure. The man went over to a haphazardly stacked pile of pads and miraculously removed one from the pile without tipping the pile over. Malcolm wondered for a moment how that was possible, then shrugged off the probability of it being unlikely aside. How it had been possible for the man to do that wasn't important. The older man handed him the pad. "Here, this is the copy of the regulations for servin' with Starfleet. It just was confirmed last week and set up as a guide for the future. Since Starfleet is new it took awhile for the bureaucrats to agree on the wording."

"They actually agreed with each other before a decade passed?" Malcolm asked in astonishment, trying to keep his face perfectly straight. "Perhaps it will act as an example to the world government."

Charles sat across from him again and snorted at his comment. "I don't think that's very likely. I think the only reason the bureaucrats agreed so fast was that Vulcans were always in the room watching them and they didn't want to give them any further cause to say we aren't ready to go on a deep space mission. We've been ready for years and we aren't about to wait for their permission, if we did so we'd still be earthbound in 1000 years."

Malcolm nodded. "I know it sometimes seems that way, however the Vulcans likely have good reason for thinking the way they do. They have come across quite a few civilizations and may be concerned due to what has happened on other planets. Especially if they know of a society that pushed for too much too soon and suffered harm due to that. They do not know us very well, and we have just recovered from a war that occurred because we pushed a little too fast. I think we need to remember that Vulcans have what they believe is good reason to be concerned. We need to remember that Vulcan society is very different from ours and try to learn how to respect their right to have an opinion. Learn how to speak with them so as to explain our point of view in a rational manner, for that is the only way we will get to know them. We have learned to accept all the varying beliefs that abound on earth, it may be a bit harder to learn to accept the Vulcans, but it will likely be worth the effort."

Charles blinked at his little speech. Malcolm hoped he had not offended the man or gone on to long, but he had had to speak up to let the older man know his opinion. It was something he believed in strongly. One of the reasons why they were heading out into deep space in the first place was to meet other civilizations that had developed on different planets, faced different challenges, and likely had some very different ways of doing things. If they could not accept that Vulcan society and that Vulcans as a whole likely had reasons for the things they believed in, reasons for doing things in the way they did them, how could they learn to accept the practices of cultures they hadn't met yet? And if you weren't willing to accept other ways of doing things, how could you learn more about each unique society and thus learn more about yourself and what you held dear?

"That makes a lot of sense." Charles said, after thinking for a moment. "I'm gonna have to think about that. It will be hard for me to try to accept Vulcans, but I see now why it's necessary to try."

Malcolm sighed in relief. "I'll read the regulations now, it'll likely take me a few minutes once I find the appropriate section."

"That's alright. I'll look over some specs I received a couple days ago. Let me know when you're finished." Charles said.

"Certainly." Malcolm said, then started reading. He found the appropriate section quickly, read through it once quickly. Then went back over it slowly word by word to make sure he read it correctly, not wanting the legal language to trip him up. He wondered why lawyers insisted on making the language for these regulations so confusing for the layperson. Once he was finished, he felt tears threaten though he was very happy. Why would he want to cry when feeling happy? It puzzled him, but he figured that it did not matter at the moment to figure that out.

They would be able to be together, yet Malcolm worried. If they were together now and for awhile on ship, well once Charles broke up with him, the captain would have a very depressed armoury officer. But if he didn't take the risk, he'd kick himself the rest of his life for not being with his love for as long as his love wanted him. Whether just the first few weeks on Enterprise or longer, whatever time he was granted with the engineer would be treasured. It would be a gift, for Malcolm had never expected to have such joy within his grasp.

The armoury officer grabbed all his courage again and said, "well Charles, it seems you were right about those regulations. I would like to be able to be with you now and on ship. I'll keep my quarters, as you suggested, and we can talk at lunch or send messages to each other on when to meet. We'll have to let the captain know that we are seeing each other, but I don't think I'll mind others knowing. I want to be able to hold your hand when we are off duty, whenever the urge should take me."

He saw Charles' eyes blaze with joy and watched as he swallowed. "I'd like that." The older man said gruffly.

Malcolm looked at the time, "I have an appointment today in a few hours, I had better go to my quarters on station and sort them out. Then I have to get in uniform. I'd like to meet you for dinner tonight. Will 1900 be good for you?"

"Yes, it'd be good." Charles answered. "There's a nice Chinese restaurant near here that serves a great sweat and sour pork dish. Would you like to try it?"

"Chinese food is good," Malcolm said. "Where is the restaurant?"

"Section D, room 69." Trip said and blushed at what his mind had briefly pictured.

"I'll meet you there at 1900. Goodbye for now." Malcolm said.

Charles stood at the same time the armoury officer did and walked him to the door. "See you soon, darlin'." Then gave him a kiss full of promise that warmed his soul.

"See you soon." Malcolm said walking out the door.


Trip decided that he'd better call Jonny and let him know what was happening before he and Malcolm showed up on board ship. He and Jonny had known each other for about 8 years now, had watched each other go in and out of relationships, he hoped he would be able to explain how he just knew that this time he had met his soul mate. He wanted his best friend; the man who was like a brother to him, to understand how important this was to him, how vital it was. The engineer needed his captain to know, in order to appease regulations. The friend needed Jonny's support, his listening ear, and an attempt to understand.

Sure Trip had not known Malcolm for very long, but his soul knew that the younger man was it for him. There would be no other person for him romantically. He hoped Jonny could understand how this soul deep understanding had come so instantly and was irremovable.

Trip put in a call to his friend and CO. Saw the excited, stressed, worried, and joyful expression on Jonny's face when he answered. "Hi Trip, things are going good this end. Just a few more positions to fill and Enterprise will have a full crew. I'm still hoping to convince Hoshi Sato to come along, she's the best linguist I know of or heard of. I don't know what we'll do for a chief helmsman, the ones that command have recommended don't seem to be quite right. I'm beginning to wonder if there is anyone out there who has the qualifications and at least a little experience. I found an extraordinary armoury officer though; I was surprised to see him still available. He's just transferred to Starfleet from naval training, an expert marksman, PHD in weapons technology, the whole nine yards, I expect that I'll be recommending him for promotion within the first couple of years, his abilities are so astounding."

"Actually, Cap'n, I heard you found the armoury officer. I went to that comedy club bar last night and met up with Malcolm Reed." Trip said, and saw Jonny's blink of surprise, not only due to the fact that he knew Malcolm's name, but likely due to the realization that part of the reason the engineer had called was to inform the older man of something official.

"Really, that's interesting." Jon said, getting that look on his face that Trip associated with him putting his captain's hat on. "What do you think of Lieutenant Reed."

"Well, I can't comment on the officer as he and I haven't worked together yet. Since we met in an informal location, we dealt with each other as individuals rather than colleagues. Not that colleagues aren't individuals…"Trip backtracked thinking his wording had been a bit confusing, then stopping as the captain interrupted him.

"I think I know what you mean, you talked with the person since neither of you were on duty or on official business. Did he tell you last night that he was going to be my armoury officer?" Jon asked.

Trip felt a vague hint of jealousy at his friends wording then shook it off. He knew Jonny hadn't meant it to sound possessive. "No I learned this morning, but I need to inform you of something Captain. You see he and I got along very well last night. We talked for hours, laughing and arguing and comfortable silences and flirting, soft touches and shy looks from him. One thing led to another and well Jonny, my heart and soul and mind filled with joy once I met him and the joy grew and grew the longer I was with him. I have a soul deep certainty that I have met the person meant for me, the one who is my soul mate, in the form of Malcolm Reed. We talked about being with each other as much as possible now and though for now he wants to keep his own quarters, we want to continue our relationship on board. I'm hoping to eventually convince him to marry me."

Trip saw Jon frown and sigh, wondering why he did so. "Jonny, why are you frowning like that aren't you happy I found love?"

"Normally I would be ecstatic." Jon said, "It sounds from your description that you truly believe you have found your soul mate, as I hoped you would. But…last I heard you were dating a woman named Natalie, so I'm worried that you forgot about that and jumped at the opportunity to be with Malcolm Reed. So, for my own peace of mind, I need to know, what do you intend to do about Natalie? What do you intend to tell Malcolm about Natalie?"


Jon looked at his friend with concern. From the look on Trip's face, the tone of his voice, well everything about him pointed to the fact that he was deeply in love. Yet the older man worried, if Trip had just forgotten about the existence of Natalie and lost himself in the moment, his friend could loose the love of his life, this Malcolm. The captain knew how he would feel if he had learned that someone he was involved with was still involved with someone else. It had happened to him once before, he had felt betrayed, hurt, used, and heartbroken and the person who neglected to tell Jon of a previous involvement had not been a true love feeling.

If Malcolm Reed was even just a quarter as devoted to Trip as the engineer was devoted to Malcolm, then Jon worried that such news, news that the man he had been involved with had not yet terminated another relationship would devastate him. Then if Trip could not pull his own ass out of the fire, appease Malcolm's sense of betrayal, hurt, and whatever else the man might feel, then Trip would be shattered. His friend and chief engineer would have a heart in minuscule pieces, all due to jumping for the golden ring of his love for Malcolm before dealing with whatever he needed to deal with concerning Natalie.

Jon saw Trip's eyes light up with humor and his mouth twitch. The older man frowned in irritation; did his friend not see the disaster this could become?

"Jonny," he hear the younger man say, "didn't you read the old fashioned paper letter I sent you a month ago, the one with the red envelope?"

"Uh, no, I kind of shoved it into one of the piles of 'not that urgent' business since it wasn't duty related, it must still be in the pile." Jon answered, wondering what the letter had to do with their conversation.

"Well, fish it out and read it, it has the answer as to what's up with Natalie." Trip answered. "I'd like you to read it before we talk anymore about Malcolm."

Jon smiled a little, obviously his friend was going to wax rhapsodically over his new found love a lot in the coming weeks. He knew that he would get no further clues from Trip until he read the letter and went to shuffle through piles of stuff to find it. Once he did he opened the envelope and unfolded the white paper inside, shaking his head once again at these bouts of 'old-fashioned communication', Trip insisted on keeping up.

"Hey the first line says that if I read it because you asked me to while talking to me then I should read it out loud." Jon said, surprised.

"So it does," Trip smiled. "Go ahead Jonny, read it."

"Hey Jonny, you'll never guess what happened. You know how I was having a nice flirtation with Natalie; well she came up to me today. She said 'Trip, I know you and I have been having fun, but I need to move on. You're shipping out soon for a mission that will last a long time and I am just not the type to sit around waiting when we aren't going to last anyway. I hope you find the right person for you soon. Bye.' Then she kissed me.

Now Jonny, don't worry about me. I know you might when reading this, but you know I only saw her as a summer romance. I'm thinking of her with fondness, not cryin' in my beer. Which is why I'm writing to you instead of calling you up to talk face to face. I'm still hoping to find the right one for me, but I think I'll take a break from looking for now.

If you read this afore I tell you to, just say to me the next time I see you, "I'm glad your not crying in your beer" and I'll owe you a beer. If I hear you read it out loud to me though, I'm going to expect you to buy me a cool one the next time we get together. Bye for now Jonny. Your pal, Trip."

Jon looked up at the smirking expression his friend was wearing and sighed. "Well, I'm glad I was worrying for nothing. I wish I had known you had broken up with Natalie. It sounds as if you're set to court Malcolm. When's the wedding going to be?" He watched his friend of 8 years turn deep red with embarrassment.

"Well courting Malcolm sounds like a good idea. But I think it's going to be quite a while before we have the wedding." Trip said, "I'm sure he loves me, but we need to let the love mature and ripen. So that he comes to believe the love will last. I'll make sure to corner you into being best man. I'll likely want your 'mother' perform the ceremony."

"Sounds good to me." Jon said, eyes twinkling at the long standing joke in between them that Admiral Forrest might be Jon's long lost mother, considering all the worry Forrest expressed over Jon, and all the leeway he gave the green eyed man. "Now, why don't you tell me how you and Malcolm met and what you've been up to since then? This is a secure channel, so whatever we say will stay in between us." Jon saw Trip blush again at his stating he wanted to know what the engineer had been up to since meeting Malcolm. It was going to be fun teasing his friend about his new love. It would be nice to act as a sounding board and a shoulder to cry on if needed. He was glad he and Trip had become such good friends.

Jon was also looking forward to meeting Malcolm Reed and pestering him, hoping his persistence would lead to him and Malcolm becoming friends. He wanted to be close to the man that his best friend was hopelessly in love with. Especially since Lieutenant Reed was likely the closest that he would ever come to having a brother in law.


Trip and Jon had finished talking, so now everything was settled. Malcolm and he would be able to have a relationship now, continue to have one on Enterprise, giving him enough time, he hoped, to convince the younger man he was lovable. Hopefully their wedding would happen sooner rather than later, but as long as it happened, as long as he got to have Malcolm with him the rest of his life, he would be happy.

Trip made sure he looked presentable and headed to the Chinese restaurant for his second date with Malcolm, full of hope for the future.

The end…of this part of the series. Stay tuned for the next chapter in the series "Journey Into Love" where I will show how different some of their on screen adventures turn out now that Malcolm and Trip are together. Will their love lead to marriage? Will one of them sacrifice themselves needlessly for the other? Will Malcolm grow to see himself as being likeable, much less loveable? For the answer to these and other questions stay tuned for the next in the series, "Collage".

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