Jonathan Archer looked at the alien barman opposite him. "Can I have another?" he asked,
and waved his empty glass as indication to what he meant.
The barman chuckled. "Are you so sure about that?" he asked. "You might not wake up in the
morning... if indeed you make it to bed."
The glass again. "I can handle those odds," Jonathan told him, smiling.
"Okay then," the barman replied. "Another liapp, it is." He took Jonathan's proffered glass
and filled it with a viscous liquid. Its colour was a cross between pink and purple, and it stank to high heaven of something
(thankfully) unidentifiable to the human palette.
"Are you enjoying your stay here?" the alien asked presently.
Jonathan nodded though a small mouthful of the drink. "It's a... relaxing change to what's
been happening recently," he said. He was surprised to hear tones of wistfulness in his own voice, but there they were. "We
haven't had much chance for shore leave recently, I think most of my crew's welcomed the chance to have some R and R."
The barman nodded. "I've seen some of them come through here," he commented. "Most of them
seem quite friendly."
Jonathan nodded in agreement. "That's good to know."
"Two of them in particular," the alien continued in the same conversational tone of voice.
"I believe they said they were called Trip Tucker and Malcolm Reed."
"Two of my senior officers," the captain informed him. "Two of my best."
"Then it only seems fitting that they were enjoying themselves," said the barman. "They took
a fair amount of purchases with them when they went upstairs to their room." He jerked his head toward the sweeping staircase,
which led up the where the visitor suites were.
Jonathan nodded again and set down his glass. Strangely enough, he found that he wasn't feeling
any of the after-effects that had been described to him. In fact, he only felt a little light-headed, something which didn't
dissipate as he made his way up the broad, carpeted stairs to the floor where several of the Starfleet crew had been given
rooms, including several of the senior staff. Jonathan had been given a single room on the third floor right next to Trip
and Malcolm, who were sharing; the other side of them were Lieutenants Hess and Bathurst. Further down still, the captain
knew, was a good half of Malcolm's armoury rotation, all of whom were planning to get blind drunk, consequences be damned.
The light-headed feeling only increased as he entered his room and sat down on the bed. He
took a deep breath, and then laid back against the headboard behind him, staring up at the ceiling where, he noticed, the
architect or designer or whoever had apparently recommended that the decorators paint garishly bright pictures of... intimate
acts between different species... hang on... was that kind of position even possible?!
Blinking away the... interesting imagery starting to form in his head, Jonathan instead tried
to concentrate on the refreshingly blank wall opposite him. Blank. Blank was good. So was the silence, come to think of it,
'cos he still felt a little woozy from that drink.
All seemed to be quiet from the room shared by Trip and Malcolm as well, which was also kinda
refreshing for the captain; he was still trying to get over the idea that those two were... well, he still didn't like to
think about it, truth be told.
And speaking of officers...
"So. Malcolm. What'd you get?"
Was that Trip? Jonathan sat up straight and turned to face the wall behind him, behind the
"Nothing that would interest you," Malcolm's voice replied calmly, and on his side of the
wall, the captain sighed. Thin walls. Damn.
"Unless, of course," Malcolm continued, "you care particularly for this sort of thing."
"An' what would that be?" Trip asked, an unmistakable grin in his voice, and for the second
time in as many weeks Jonathan felt his stomach slowly start to sink downwards in the direction of his feet. Not this again...
what the hell was it with those two? And while he was on the subject, why the hell did those walls have to be so damn thin?
"This." Malcolm paused, and there was the distinct sound of something rustling. "This." Another
pause, and more rustling. "And... la pièce de resistance." His accent was surprisingly good from what Jonathan could remember
of ninth grade French; similar to Trip a few moments before, Jonathan knew that his armoury officer was likely smirking, although
the thought did nothing to settle the captain's stomach. Or even do anything to find it.
"Oh, très bon," Trip shot back, and in his room the captain winced. That accent... not so
good. "Any idea what you're gonna do with those?"
"I don't think I've decided yet," Malcolm replied, clearly in thought. "The shop's proprietor
said they can have multiple uses, but I think they're more recreational than anything else."
"You'll find somethin' ta do with them," Trip replied confidently. "Get a little group thing
goin' with some o' your armoury crew." There was a small pause, then, "Phil should be up to it, Matt too," he added. "Hell,
Lennie'll do in a pinch. Prob'ly her sorta thing."
Another pause. "I don't suppose you'd mind telling me how you appear to know so much about
my staff?" Malcolm's voice asked, sounding a little huffy. Jonathan grinned, trying not to laugh out loud.
"It's amazin' what an engineer can find out, y'know," Trip told him smugly.
"Again, the question is 'how'."
"A true professional never reveals his secrets," Trip said jokingly. "There's no tellin'
what could happen."
"No... there isn't," Malcolm allowed, and the dark undertones in his voice were clear even
through the wall.
"There is one thing, though," Trip added slowly. "That." Small pause. "What the hell are
you s'posed ta do with it?"
Another pause; on his side of the wall, Jonathan listened intently despite himself.
"Isn't it obvious?" Malcolm asked, his own English accent impeccable and amusement a very
Again there was a brief spell of silence. Then, "No, no. That's jus' unnatural," Trip protested.
"Nothin' should be that big." Pause. "Get it away from me!"
"Oh, come on," Malcolm laughed. "It won't do any... lasting damage!"
Jonathan stared at the section of wall visible behind his bed's headboard. Those two are
straight, he told himself firmly. Straight as torpedoes, dammit!
"Is it s'posed ta be that long?" Trip asked dubiously, and back over on his side of the wall
Jonathan silently contemplated attempting to switch rooms with somebody else... anybody else. Although... that really wouldn't
be a good idea, because then he'd have to explain to whoever that the reason he wanted to switch rooms was because two of
his senior officers... two of his male senior officers kept giving off the impression that... well... that they were
as horny as hell whenever they were alone in a room together.
Damn. He'd have to stay put.
For now at least.
And throughout this internal rant and rave, there was still a conversation carrying on on
the other side of the wall, a conversation that Jonathan simply couldn't help but hear.
"You see?" It was Malcolm again. "It goes in... and out. In... and out."
Jonathan groaned out loud and shut his eyes tightly, but on the other side of the wall, Trip
was already replying. "Does it do the hokey cokey and turn itself around?" he asked sarcastically.
"It does more than that," Malcolm replied dryly.
"Show me, then," Trip shot back instantly with an unmistakable grin in his voice.
There was a small pause before Malcolm replied. "Not here," he said, almost condescendingly.
"How exactly would I explain the damage to management?"
"What?" Trip asked, sounding as though he was stifling back laughter. "Tellin' 'em you're
a professional isn't gonna swing 'em?"
"No." And on his side of the wall, Jonathan grinned a little. But only a little.
Trip was apparently in a fully formed thought process by this point. "Well," he began, "can
"I wanna go," Trip said, pitching his voice really high, like a child's. "Mal, can I have
a go with the big pointy thing now?"
Jonathan literally jumped at that, coming very, very close to hitting his head on the headboard.
Backing slowly away from the wall, he could hear Malcolm's sniffy 'no' like a goddamned beacon through the goddamned wall.
A squeaking of the... the bedsprings next door and, "C'mon! Give it to me!" Pause. "I'm askin'
nicely, Mal..." he added in a pouty voice, then laughed. "C'mon..."
After that, several things seemed to happen at once. One, the bedsprings kept squeaking and
springing in their merry way. Two, there came from Trip and Malcolm's side of the wall an almighty thudding sound followed
by yells from both men. And three, Jonathan backed up as far away from the headboard as he possibly could until he was pressed
against the opposite wall.
"I said give it to me!" Trip yelled. "An' I can tell ya I did not mean it like that!"
"It's not my fault you're so... so bloody clumsy!" Malcolm yelled right back. Then, "Okay,
okay. We can do this."
"Do this?" Trip repeated incredulously. "Do this?! An' how exactly do you propose we 'do
"Turn around," Malcolm said breathlessly. "Turn around, face to the wall."
Presumably Trip complied, because Malcolm then added, "Hold onto something, I'll try and
From where he now was at the other end of the room, Jonathan was pretty much frozen in position,
unable to move, say, or really do anything at all. Whatever was going on in there... well, it didn't really bear thinking
about, to be honest.
And he didn't want to think about it.
"Er... Trip?" It was Malcolm again.
A cautious, "Yeah?"
Small, almost desperate pause. "I, er... I... think... it's stuck."
Trip veritably exploded. "What?! How the hell did that happen?!"
Nothing from the armoury officer, and Jonathan - being the good captain that he was supposed
to be - winced on said armoury officer's behalf. Trip didn't sound happy...
Meanwhile, Trip was still in full rant. "So what the hell am I s'posed ta do now?" he demanded.
"Go down t'Engineerin' with THIS stickin' outta me?! Call me paranoid, but I think people are gonna notice somethin' like
this, ya know."
The captain's eyes widened and slowly, almost invisibly he shook his head. Oh no... please
no... oh God no...
Why the hell him?
After a couple of minutes of this sort of thinking, a quiet English accent cut through the
tense silence. "I think there may be a way out of this," Malcolm said nervously.
"Well, I'm all ears," Trip replied caustically.
When it came, Malcolm's idea was as quiet as it was, well, more than a little outrageous.
Trip: "Excuse me?"
Silently, Jonathan concurred, as well as noting with annoyance that even at this kind if
distance, he could still hear both his chief engineer and armoury officer as clearly as if they were in the same room.
And thank God they weren't.
Malcolm sighed impatiently, more vocal than breathy. But anyway. "For sod's sake Trip," he
exclaimed, just as curtly, "just bend over and think of Uncle Sam!"
What?! thought Jonathan.
"What?!" yelled Trip at around the same time.
"I'm being serious," Malcolm replied calmly. "Come on," he added soothingly, "arse in the
Back on his side of the annoyingly thin wall, Jonathan simply stared at the small space above
the headboard and below the decorated ceiling. This.. this couldn't be happening. No. No way.
And definitely not again.
"Jus'... jus' take it slowly, okay?" Trip asked, taking what could only have been deep, halting
breaths in between some of the words. "You do this fast, Loo-tenant, an' I won't be able ta sit down properly for a week."
Okay. Okay. That... that was... well, if those two were... if they were in any way... well,
Jonathan could only wish the best for one of his oldest friends, but still...
He had to get out of there. Something was going on in that room, and both Captain Archer
and Jonathan wanted nothing to do with it. Let Trip and Malcolm get on with... things.
Jonathan wanted out. And within minutes, he was back down in the very bar he had started
out in, just a few tables down from what appeared to be some of the ensigns from both the armoury and the engineering rotations,
although there were maybe one or two faces he wasn't entirely sure about.
He was in fact nursing another of the drinks he had been sampling earlier when the sound
of cackling, hysterical laughter floated into the bar area. The laughter was followed seconds later by Lieutenants Hess and
Bathurst (both Engineering), both of whom made a direct beeline for the other Starfleet crew.
Again, Jonathan could hear every word.
Hess began. "We," she began dramatically, "have just come from the third floor."
"Where Commander Tucker and Lieutenant Reed are," Bathurst said equally theatrically.
"So?" one of the women at the table asked, clearly unimpressed with the announcement thus
Hess sighed. "Okay, Clara," she said, "you remember that weird antiquey place you and Phil
"Yeah," was Clara's reply, and almost instantly Jonathan placed her - she was one of the
enlisted crew on Malcolm's armoury team. "The place owned by the Bournati ex-pat," she went on.
"That one," Hess said. "Well, turns out Lieutenant Reed found it as well. Came away with
one of the harpoons the guy had up for sale, plus some other display and recreation things."
"The harpoon?" an Irish voice asked.
"Yeah," Hess replied. "Come to think of it, what d'ya know about it?"
There was a small pause before, "Not much. The Bournati said that it had been used during
wars on their planets for centuries. It fires out something similar to an arrow, except it somehow attaches it to the target
and it's amazingly difficult to budge."
"Yeah." Hess was clearly unimpressed. "So?"
"So, up to about a century ago they used to have slow acting poisons in the arrow shafts.
Take several days to kill the person."
"Oh," Hess replied. "Cool. Anyway," she continued, "you know what those two are like - they'd
end up killing each other if they weren't such good friends."
There was a general babble of assent, and over in his corner Jonathan could only sit and
groan to himself. Hess had no idea.
"So Reed has the harpoon in the hotel room," Hess continued. "And the commander wants to
have a look at him. Reed won't let him, and he ends up... shooting Commander Tucker in the ass with it."
"Had a three foot arrow sticking out of his ass," Bathurst said, clearly trying not to laugh.
"And they're still trying to figure out how to get it out of the commander's ass!" Hess continued;
she then broke into uncontrollable laughter.
As everyone else started laughing as well, over in his little corner of the bar, Jonathan
Archer started mentally kicking himself again, and after some time of this, he came to the... disconcerting realisation that
he was going to have to talk to Trip and Malcolm about their... behaviour.
He just knew it.