o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
I sit and wait
Does an angel contemplate my fate
Trip sighed and stared down into his drink. "Jon, you gotta help me. I think I'm goin' crazy."
"What do you mean?"
He sighed. "I don't really know," he answered looking back up. "I mean, how are ya s'posed to know if you're goin' crazy?"
Jonathan thought about this for a second. "Well," he said, "has anything happened recently that's given you... cause to
think you're going over the edge?"
"Aside from everythin' else happenin' around here?" Trip asked facetiously, indicating the view of the Expanse from the
viewport in the captain's mess. He exhaled sharply. "I... have you ever had the feelin' that somewhere there's someone watchin'
you - keepin' an eye on ya so ya don't mess things up, or - or they're just there. An' just knowin' it makes ya feel safer?"
The captain smiled slightly. "I used to," he replied somewhat cryptically. "So who's making you feel this way?"
Trip met his eyes, an awkward expression in them. "I dunno," he said. "I'm prob'ly barkin' up the wrong warp nacelle here,
but..." He sighed again. "Malcolm. It feels like everywhere I go at the moment, there's Malcolm, just makin' sure I'm okay."
"Are you sure?" Jonathan asked.
Trip ran a hand through his hair. "Sometimes I think I know when he's keepin' an eye on me through the surveillance cams,
but other times I don't know. An' at the moment it seems like there's always one of his armoury people in Engineerin' - an'
it's always Lennie or Phil. Malcolm seems to trust them more than any o' the others."
Jonathan eyed him a little sceptically. "Have you spoken to him about it? I mean, if he's harassing you, then -"
"No," Trip interrupted him. He looked scandalised. "S'not like that, Jon. It isn't. It's... I don't know exactly, but it's
kinda comfortin', just knowin' that... well, that he's there."
"You don't think there's any kind of ulterior motive going on here?"
Trip laughed. "This is Malcolm we're talkin' about. Speakin' ta someone in the mess means the man's got some kinda
sneak plan goin' on that we don't know about. I just can't figure out what it is this time. He's stretched pretty thin already,
what with the crap the MACOs are givin' him 'bout things." He shook his head. "I don't know."
"Is there anything else going on with Lieutenant Reed that I perhaps need to know about?" Suddenly, Jonathan's voice had
a steely edge to it.
Trip didn't meet his eyes. "Nope," he replied as flippantly as he could perhaps manage. "Nothin' that I know anythin' about."
o o o o o
'cos I've been told
That salvation lets their wings unfold
Later that night, Trip rolled around in bed, trying to get to sleep but unable to do so. The evening's neuropressure session
with T'Pol hadn't quite gone to plan - instead of feeling relaxed as he was supposed to, Trip was now more agitated than he
had been in a while.
Part of him was still going over the conversation he had had with Jon, and the conversation he had had with Malcolm only
hours later in the mess hall. Both times he had come away feeling more than just a little confused, as well as light-headed
- the way he sometimes felt immediately after a hangover.
He had come back into the mess the second time for something to eat inbetween what was shaping up to be a double shift
in Engineering, and as he had turned away from the food hatches...
"Malcolm!" Trip had said, starting. "Jeez, you scared me. Tryin' to scare the hell outta me, were ya?"
Malcolm had merely smiled, the same smile he always wore when he knew something that nobody else knew. "Shouldn't you be
a little more aware of your surroundings, Commander?" he had enquired almost facetiously. "Wouldn't get so many nasty surprises,
"Wouldn't go quite so far as nasty," Trip had replied, rubbing the back of his neck. "But ya still scared me. Stoppin'
for somethin' t'eat?"
"No, I have to be going. Have a good evening, Trip." And with that he had gone.
Since he had finally climbed into bed, Trip had been replaying those few lines over and over, trying to make sense of it
all; more than once already he had arrived at the conclusion that there was nothing to be got from it. Just a short conversation
between two people who used to be good friends.
On the surface, though, not much had changed; Trip still joined Malcolm for the odd meal in the mess hall, still teased
him from time to time, although even that was becoming a rare event. And instead of Lizzie's ghost haunting his fleeting sleeping
moments, the armoury officer had started to command centre stage.
It always started with Dream Trip and Dream Malcolm having a conversation in either Engineering or in the armoury, usually
about nothing else but work and upgrades. Occasionally Dream Malcolm would launch into a diatribe about Hayes and his team,
but not often. Both men would leave the department. The dream then shifted to Trip's quarters, where Dream Trip would either
be trying to sleep or doing some late night work at the computer when Dream Malcolm came through the door. Another small exchange
of words, and then Dream Malcolm would close the distance between himself and Dream Trip. He would ask Dream Trip if he was
still coping okay, which was usually answered in the affirmative, although again this was not something that happened each
Dream Malcolm would smile that same slow, lazy smile he reserved for big explosions or close friends, and tell Dream Trip
that he was keeping an eye out for him, that he wanted to be absolutely sure that Dream Trip was doing okay. That Dream Malcolm
cared about Dream Trip, Dream Malcolm would say as he slid a hand up the back of Dream Trip's neck, up into his hair, rubbing
the skin slightly. Dream Trip would respond by touching the side of Dream Malcolm's face lightly, then more confidently as
he grew comfortable with the close contact.
Dream Malcolm would then close the final few inches between them, coming closer and closer in until his lips met Dream
Trip's in a gentle embrace. When he drew back again, after a long few seconds, Dream Malcolm would smile again and say something
that was so quiet that Dream Trip could never quite hear it, but the sound of the low, soothing voice always did something
to the growing pit inside the space where Dream Trip's stomach used to be. Dream Malcolm then drew back completely, but a
second later he was pushing Dream Trip's shoulders ever so gently, guiding him backwards towards the bed until Dream Trip
sat down on the edge of the bed, before being coerced into the middle of the bed, where Dream Malcolm kissed him again, pushing
him down on his back until he was lying down looking up into the face of his own angel, although Dream Trip would never say
that out loud.
He started on the face, covering it with light feathery kisses, feeling Dream Trip's smile grow underneath him. Dream Malcolm
would nuzzle into the crook of Dream Trip's neck, going straight for the ticklish spot just next to the bobbing Adam's apple
and staying there for a few seconds before moving again. Hands and mouth explored Dream Trip's chest, weaving through the
short fuzzy hair and playing with some more ticklish spots in the sides and small of his back as Dream Trip arched into the
warm touch, smiling and even laughing despite himself.
The dream shifted again, and all of a sudden Dream Trip would be sitting almost upright in the bed, curled up into a ball
with a blanket and a pair of strong arms wrapped around him. Dream Trip would finally be able to relax then, letting Dream
Malcolm hold him and cuddle him and whisper to him, telling him that things would come out okay in the end, that Dream Malcolm
would always be there for him if he needed him. Dream Trip just lay there in the other man's arms as Dream Malcolm rubbed
circles into his back, until finally he was able to sleep...
And when Trip woke up in the morning, it was always with the same warm feeling that followed him through the dream, and
a strange sense of... of completion that he never knew quite what to do with. And then the day would begin all over again,
and Trip had to try and forget the dream until something happened to make him remember.
It always did.
o o o o o
When I'm feeling weak
And my pain walks down a one way street
There was an explosion in Engineering. Something in the transmitter relays had blown - and taken half the engine room with
it. Thick black smoke was everywhere, hampering the security team's efforts to find the four crew on duty; they couldn't even
see their scanners through the smog.
Trip was one of the four engineers. He had been nearer to the centre of the explosion than any of the others, and as far
as he could tell he was also one of the most affected - at the moment he was pinned behind three strips of railing, one of
which had come dangerously close to going straight through his heart, and another was nestling a little too close to his neck
for comfort. And wherever the other one was, it hurt like hell.
As the smoke had eventually begun to dissipate, Trip could hear and begin to see some of the security team carefully picking
their way through the fallout, trying to find the last two engineers - Trip himself and Lieutenant Bathurst.
He could hear Malcolm. Real Malcolm, calling out for Trip, calling his name, trying to find him, asking him where he was...
and then there he was. Looking down at Trip through what used to be a working computer console, a smile forming on his lips.
"You had me worried for a minute there," Malcolm said gravely, beginning to move things aside. "I thought we were going to
As the last pieces of smaller shrapnel were moved out of the way, Trip grinned weakly, despite the pain. "I'm not goin'
anywhere," he managed, his voice hoarse from breathing in the smoke.
"Glad to hear it," Malcolm replied, pulling Trip to his feet, and reaching out to catch the engineer before he fell over
where he stood. "Come on," he added, holding his arm out for support, "let's get you somewhere safer, okay?"
Real Malcolm's arm felt warm around Real Trip's waist, and it tightened around him as they slowly made their way out of
the room and up to Sickbay to where Phlox was waiting inside with an emergency medical kit, a hefty supply of pain medication
and a biobed onto which Trip gratefully sank, noting with distanced satisfaction that the other three of his shift had made
it as well.
Malcolm stayed with him while the doctor buzzed around the sickbay; he had told Phlox that he wanted to make sure that
the four engineers were going to be fine, but he hadn't yet left Trip's bedside. Occasionally he would check Trip's vital
signs, but never said anything out loud, nor did Trip say anything to him. And as Phlox's "happy juice" had begun to have
a welcome effect on the commander, one of the last coherent thoughts that went through his head was that really, Malcolm was
just like a guardian angel, keeping him from dying time after time like this.
And he was a very welcome angel, at that.
o o o o o
And when love is dead
I'm loving angels instead
Days after the explosion in Engineering, and Trip had long since come to accept that he could never have Malcolm. At least,
not in the way he secretly knew he wanted. Real Malcolm was just too focused on the Xindi mission - they all were, on the
surface, but then again Lieutenant Reed had less choice than most on this ship, perhaps because Hayes and his team were still
trying to undermine both the armoury officer and his armoury.
And as long as everybody around him thought that the neuropressure sessions with T'Pol were little more than thinly veiled
excuses for half naked massages and other goings on, then Trip wasn't going to have much of a chance trying to get anybody
interested, least of all his erstwhile angel. After all, while the Vulcan woman may have done it for some people, she really
wasn't Trip's type.
But he still had the friendship of Real Malcolm, and given what was going on all around them on a day to day basis, that
was still more than Trip could ever hope for, although in his heart he still wanted a little bit more than he could have.
Some days he would catch either Malcolm or one of his armoury staff watching him with speculation, and his heart would
leap, but hours later it would be as if nothing had changed, as if they were still friends trying to fully recover their friendship
to what it had been before everything had fallen apart, and Trip's hopes would be dashed again, at least in the short term.
But then again, Trip still knew deep down that while Malcolm kept looking out for him, kept keeping an eye on him, kept
bringing him back to life again and again, time after time, that maybe in the long run - if they ever survived this - then
perhaps there could be the chance for the two of them to sit down and maybe talk about things, but in the meantime he was
And during the few, fleeting hours of sleep he caught every night, Dream Trip found Dream Malcolm waiting to help him chase
away the nightmares one last time, waiting to help him cope with the demons that plagued him during the daytime... waiting
to help him remember how to love again.
And through it all he offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong
That was what it was.
For the moment, at least, Trip was in love, and although it was with the ghost of a memory of a dream that returned his
feelings during the here and now, Trip supposed that he could always hold out hope that someday Dream Malcolm and Real Malcolm
could become one single person, like Dream Trip and Real Trip seemed to be, especially first thing in the morning or late
at night when tempers were frayed, exhaustion was high, and he could no longer tell the difference between dreams and reality.
It was those times when Trip wanted nothing more than to throw everything out of the airlock and tell Real Malcolm all the
things he told Dream Malcolm on an almost nightly basis.
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me
When I come to call he won't forsake
For whatever reason the armoury officer was operating under at the moment, whatever sneak plan he was carrying out this
time, it seemed that Trip had his own guardian angel, his Malcolm, and whatever Malcolm was playing at, Trip wouldn't change
any of it for anything in the universe - except maybe for Dream Malcolm to become Real Malcolm.
Real Trip and Real Malcolm were still friends, though.
And for the moment, that was enough.
I'm loving angels instead...