by The Enigmatic Big Miss Sunbeam
A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Malcolm felt as if he were waiting to explode.
There she was. Moving along the hall with that eerie listlessness that marked every gesture she made.
In dreams he walked with her.
She turned slowly to him, her gestures as gentle as in a dream, as always surprising as a dream.
"Yes, Lt. Reed?"
He opened his mouth. Then, as if it were a terrible violent bruising dream, the kind where he awoke stiff and sweating, he had forgotten what he wanted to say.
She stood there in her patient Vulcan way. Watching him but not really watching him.
Was it benign interest she felt for humans, or contempt? What dreamy or horrible secrets did those wide-set eyes hide?
In dreams they were together all the time. In beautiful dreams.
Now her sweet small dark head turned slightly. No doubt wondering what he wanted.
Malcolm would have to lie.
He took a shuddering breath. "Did Captain Archer say how long we would be at warp?"
"He and Commander Tucker are discussing that, I believe." Did her eyes widen and go dark, did her nostrils faintly flare when she said Tucker's name? Malcolm slid his eyes away. How could he be jealous of Trip? Trip whose sole purpose on the Enterprise was to keep everyone alive. But Trip had an easy allure that all of them felt and he kept them alive with a cowboy wildness that made living an adventure.
"Are you familiar with earth poetry?" he said suddenly. Anything to keep near her, to stay in the green-tea radiance of her fragrance.
"Not particularly. Our indoctrination sessions at the compound in Sausolito covered only the most basic attributes of your non-space-exploration culture."
Sausalito. All those soiled nights spent in the dank arms of Ruby. How unworthy he was of this bright and radiant T'Pol. "You don't know the works of T.S. Eliot?"
Her head tipped to the side. He would have to remember that motion. Tonight he would go over the gesture a thousand times and move his head just that way, imprinting it on his flesh so he could know her.
"He writes about mermaids. Do you know what mermaids are?"
Something caught her eye and she looked away. He stared as if to impress her perfect nose, her perfect lips on his soul and in his blood.
It was Hoshi. Ambling down the hall. Perfectly pleasant and kind and intelligent and pointless and irritating.
"Hi, guys!" she said brightly. "What's cooking?"
Neither of them said anything.
"Ooops. I'm out of here."
Then they both rushed to assure her that she wasn't interrupting anything, anything at all: T'Pol with her prim Vulcan honesty and Malcolm always lying, always lying.
"We were discussing human poetry," Malcolm said and shut his eyes against that truth.
"Yes, Lieutenant Reed was recommending that I read the works of . . . Eliot, it was?"
"Well, he's pretty good," Hoshi rattled on in her clacky American-girl way. "But I bet you'd really love reading Yeats! He's got a lot of mysticism."
Hoshi's blithe blank dismissal of T'Pol's fathomless mysticism infuriated Malcolm.
But T'Pol continued. Chilly. Gracious. "Thank you, Ensign Sato. I recall someone else on earth recommending that I read Yeats. I understand that he uses a great deal of earth history in his poetry."
"My favorite is 'Leda and the Swan,'" said Hoshi agreeably, continuing her monstrous intrusion on Malcolm's simple pleasure. His limited time.
"Leda and the Swan," T'Pol said in that maddeningly slow way.
Oh, she was his swan; she was his big long-necked swan with long legs; she would have to dip that long swan neck down to kiss him. And suddenly he hated himself, hated the filth that was Malcolm, his corrupt clawing and jolting against the sturdy sullen flesh of Ruby or Caitlyn or whoever. Meanwhile, this pure maidenly goddess, his own Diana, whom he could crown forever as his radiant queen of the sky and the stars, still listened patiently to Hoshi rattle on.
". . . Reed?"
"If you will excuse us?" T'Pol said, turning like a goddess on her heavenly heel and, accompanied by the idly prattling Hoshi, walked down the hall.
He watched the dazzling waltz of her two hips sway and light the hall like a star. Then they disappeared in a doorway and Malcolm realized how utterly alone he was. Yet again.
Go to your quarters, he told himself. Go to bed, his voice said in his head. Go to sleep. Everything is all right.
Malcolm would have to wait to explode.