Title: Through Another Pair of Eyes

Author: Pretzelduck

Author's e-mail: pretzelduck@yahoo.com

URL: http://www.geocities.com/pretzelduck

Date: Posted to Archer's Enterprise and EntSTSlash 02/28/2004

Archive: Permission to archive granted to Archer's Enterprise and EntSTCommunity

Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Status: Complete

Pairing: Reed/Hayes

Summary: Tucker joins Reed and Hayes for a meal and observes some changes in the pair's relationship.

Warnings: None

Series: n/a

Sequel to: n/a

Beta: n/a

Spoilers: Shuttlepod One, Two Days and Two Nights, Cogenitor, Harbinger

Disclaimer: I don't own the Star Trek franchise. Paramount does. I also don't make any money from writing this. The only thing I make money on is my ability to roll pretzels and work a cash register.

Author's Notes: The story is a Reed/Hayes but it's told entirely from Trip's POV. Just wanted to clarify because I'm still not really sure why Trip popped into my head and insisted on talking about the two of them.

Damn, the mess hall is crowded.

Why is everyone eating at the same time today?

Every single table has at least four or five people sitting at it. Where did everybody come from? I guess I could come back later, run another low-level diagnostic on the warp engine. But I don't think I've eaten in twenty-four hours which is something that my stomach is having a lot of fun reminding me of. I wonder where I can find a place to squeeze in…

Oh, that cannot be a good idea.

One of the tables in the corner has just two occupants. No wonder everyone is avoiding it like the bubonic plague. Sitting with their backs to the wall are Malcolm and Major Hayes.

How did those two end up sitting next to each other? Last I heard on the rumor mill, they were barely even speaking, despite the fact that the captain put a moratorium on their little feud. Of course, I've been preoccupied lately with my…thing with T'Pol. I don't even know what is going on between us. We've been steering clear of each other which is probably for the best right now.

I load up my tray with various foodstuffs and make my way over to the brawling boys' table. Even if my personal life is all screwed up, at least I get some enjoyment out of needling and trading barbs with Malcolm. Neither of them notice me as I arrive so I drop my tray down on the table and plop myself in one of the empty chairs.

"Hey there, Malcolm…Major." I nod at both of them in turn but their eyes don't even glance up from the padds that they're each staring at.



Wow. That's impressive. Simultaneous brusque greetings. What's even more impressive is that it causes both men to look up, not at me but at each other. Their eyes meet for half a heartbeat before their gaze returns downward. I'm actually kind of insulted that Malcolm and Hayes are acting like I'm not even here. Once I got to know him, I discovered that Malcolm is good meal company, with his quick wit and all, and we started eating a lot of meals together. So Hayes being here or not, I think that he should at least be asking me how I am or something. Not joining the major in his "I'm absorbed in my work" attitude. So…

"You two look like you're healing up pretty good. I can barely see any bruises."

I don't get any response from this, unless you count a pair of quick head nods and two noises that sound like murmured agreements. I wasn't really expecting an answer from either of them, though. I don't know about the major but the best way to get Malcolm's attention is to push a couple of his buttons.

"If you guys ever decide to go at each other again, do you think you give the rest of us some advance notice? We could sell raffle tickets for ringside seating or maybe get a camera and tape the whole thing…"

Two dark-haired heads jerk up and I'm suddenly the recipient of two equally deadly glares. Since I'm feeling particularly reckless today, I add one more remark to up the ante.

"By the way, which one of you won the fight?"

"Excuse me?"

"I beg your pardon?"

At least they each used a different phrase this time. Just when I think the glaring is only going to get worse, both pairs of eyes soften slightly and then flick over to make contact with the other man's eyes, before coming back to glower at me again.

I wonder if those two realize that you could power the warp core with the tension that is radiating between them. Their relationship reminds me of the friction between Malcolm and I at the beginning of the Enterprise's original mission and all the fights we had over the power supply. But there's another layer to it when it comes to Malcolm and Hayes. I just can't put my finger on it.

After he takes a sip of his drink, Hayes takes a glance into his cup. What's he looking for? A way out of this situation that won't start up another fight between him and Malcolm?

"I think I need some more tea." That's convenient. Nice excuse, though. "Would you like another cup of earl gray, Lieutenant?" I wasn't expecting that and I don't think Malcolm was either. He looks a little nonplussed by the offer but graces the major with the barest of his half-smiles. "Yes…thank you, Major."

Grabbing both of their glasses, Hayes stands up to go get himself and Malcolm another cup of that god-awful tea that Malcolm seems to drink like it's water. I wonder why he didn't ask me if I wanted anything. Whatever. I focus my attention on Malcolm, so I can tease him a little more. Even just a couple of weeks ago, this would be when Malcolm would say something sarcastic about the major. Probably yet another paranoid statement about Hayes trying to take over ship's security. But he isn't saying anything. Instead, Malcolm's eyes are fixed on a spot to the right of my head. They're moving up and down occasionally, as if Malcolm is appraising something. It would look like he was lost in thought to anyone who hadn't known him awhile but I've known Malcolm for over three years now. He's staring. He's staring at his supposed adversary as he weaves his way across the crowded mess hall. And unless I'm missing something, Malcolm is watching him in a decidedly amorous way. I think he's checking Hayes out.

So that's it. I wonder when this happened. Maybe all that sweaty rolling around on the ground made Malcolm aware of the major in a physical sense. Not just in a "he's here to undermine my authority" sense. And maybe now Malcolm is hooked. All I know is I'm going to poke at him a little. Get him back for all of his comments about Vulcan neuropressure. And do a little information gathering in the process.

I know the instant that Hayes arrives at the drink dispenser because Malcolm's eyes drop to the padd on the table in front of him. He's looking at it like it contains the most important information he'll ever read. Too bad that…

"Hey, Malcolm? You do know that the padd's not even on any more, right?"

I can see him swallow a couple of times before he glances up at me. "Of course."

This is just too easy. "So how are you and the major getting along after your little dust-up?"

"Everything is settled."

Yeah, right. I know Malcolm. He doesn't let things drop that quickly. It's been two years and he still blames me for our little Risan shore leave incident and that had nothing to do with his job, only with him having to parade around in his underwear.

"Come on, Lieutenant…"

Malcolm rolls his eyes at me before he starts pushing his fork around on his plate. "It's fine. Hayes is a decent enough fellow, I suppose."

A what? I've never heard him describe anyone like that. "It's okay to like the guy, Malcolm."

That's when I know for sure that there's something going on. Malcolm's cheeks are starting to turn a little pink. He's blushing. The only times I've ever gotten him to blush bashfully like that are when I'm teasing him about a certain Vissian armory officer and his comments about T'Pol when we were stranded on Shuttlepod One. Him and T'Pol. Me and T'Pol. Him and Hayes…maybe. Life's little twists and turns.

I turn around a bit so I can see the rest of the mess hall. Hayes has stopped to talk to a couple of his men so I've got a few more moments to see what Malcolm is blushing about. I mean, I think I know why but I want to see how close I can get to him admitting it.

Lowering my voice, I lean closer to Malcolm so it's practically impossible for any eavesdroppers to overhear what I'm going to say next. "It's okay to be attracted to him, too."

No hasty denial, no evil eye glare, nothing. Instead, Malcolm's entire face softens somehow and he becomes incredibly boyish-looking and shy. Looking past me, his eyes dart around, before focusing on what I can only assume is Hayes. I've known Malcolm for over three years now and I have never seen him act like this. I guess this is him with real, live, honest-to-goodness crush on someone. I wonder if some of the tension between them is from Malcolm liking the guy but Lieutenant Reed feeling slighted by his presence.

He watches Hayes for a second or two more and then his focus returns to the plate in front of him. "Bloody idiotic of me, isn't it?"

I haven't heard Malcolm's voice sound that self-deprecating and vulnerable in a long time. Or maybe I haven't really been listening. There's something about Malcolm's hunched-over, defeated posture and this shy glimpse at a secret attraction that urges me to usher him out of the mess hall so we can put together a master plan to help him sweep Hayes off his feet. I guess this is the part of me that gets a bit misty-eyed at the ending to Casablanca.

The sound of footsteps right behind me keeps me from opening my mouth which is good thing because it's Hayes, who has finally returned with the wretched tea. He stops right next to Malcolm and slowly sets down his new cup of tea. Stands a little closer than necessary, I think.

"Here you are, Lieutenant."

Malcolm looks up at Hayes with a slightly startled expression, as if he hadn't been aware of him standing there, hadn't seen him put the cup down or hadn't been aware of every move he's made in the last five minutes. Impressive, Malcolm. Very smooth.

"Thank you." No use of rank. Malcolm's being informal. I wonder if Hayes knows that. "I appreciate it."

I'm expecting Hayes to brush off Malcolm's words but he doesn't. Instead, he gives him a little smile that reminds me a lot of one of Malcolm's. "Any time."

Whoa. I feel like I'm in the way or something here but I honesty don't think either of them realize I'm sitting here. Malcolm certainly doesn't care because he returns Hayes' smile with one of his own. Now the two of them are just demurely, almost sheepishly, smiling at each other. And making some serious eye contact.

I'm having way too much watching them. It's the voyeur in me.

Hayes finally takes his seat. Got a little lost looking into Malcolm's eyes, I think. He puts his cup down and then flips back on the padd he was looking at earlier. And lays his left forearm and hand right next to Malcolm's right ones. I didn't notice that when I first sat down. I wonder if I'm just seeing it now because Malcolm told me, in his Malcolm way, about his attraction to the major. Their hands are so close that they're practically touching. It's not that crowded at our table. There's plenty of room, even with their padds and all three of our trays.

Maybe Malcolm's situation isn't as hopeless as he so obviously thinks it is. Time to give the two of them some space.

"If you two don't mind, I'm gonna head back to Engineering. Got a couple of things still to do tonight."

Hayes gives me an "of course not, sir" while Malcolm says nothing but his facial expression quickly goes from nervous to annoyance. All I'm doing is giving you some breathing room, Malcolm. Relax.

I grab my still pretty full tray and get up from the table. Noticing that the major isn't looking at me, I give Malcolm one more look of encouragement before I walk away.

Just before I leave the mess hall, I can't resist stopping to take one more look at Malcolm and Hayes. They've gone back to their work. Both their heads are down, each studying their respective padds intently as they absentmindedly pick at the remaining food on their plates.

I think they'd make a cute couple. Assuming, of course, that neither of them would deck me for thinking about either of them in association with the word cute.

I just wonder how long it will take them.

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