The Secret Life of Malcolm Reed
by The Enigmatic Big Miss Sunbeam
Stately plump Dr. Phlox walked over to Malcolm's station and leaned over.
"I have some very bad news," he said in a low whisper.
Malcolm knew what was coming. He was only too aware that Enterprise sustained serious damage from the enemy, while his photon cannons had proved useless. "Yes?" he said to Dr. Phlox.
"I regret to inform you that Captain Archer is dead." And Dr. Phlox closed his mouth in that careful way.
Ice. And then iron.
Because the bridge door was opening and Malcolm's heart was standing at attention and T'Pol was walking in, her careful thighs parting the supercharged air of the bridge.
"Dr. Phlox," she said. "Please report to sick bay; I need Ensign Mayweather back on duty as soon as possible." And, careful as a cat, she sat in the captain's chair. "Status report, Mr. Reed?"
Malcolm read off the numbers. Distant to himself, glad to be working.
T'Pol listened carefully to him. "We seem to be outnumbered," she finally said. "Ensign Sato, contact the Vulcan High Command. I believe you have their coordinates."
Hoshi looked indignant. "The Vulcan High Command? Why?"
A deadly silence.
Then T'Pol spoke. "I don't have time to debate my orders with you, Ensign. Do as I say."
Hoshi lifted her eyebrows and turned back to her com interface.
"Yes, Ensign?" T'Pol said sharply but, before either one could say anything else, there was a loud noise.
And Trip Tucker slammed the door to the bridge.
"Why the hell are you calling the Vulcan High Command? Oh, yeah, Hoshi just radio'd me about your little scheme. Well, we're not asking for help from those pointy-eared sons of bitches. Listen, Cap'n Archer just died in my arms." He took a deep breath. "I'm not gonna give up his fight."
T'Pol gave him a silent large-eyed look.
And it was Hoshi who spoke next. "Subcommander T'Pol, Commander Tucker *is* the highest ranking Starfleet officer now." She made a petulant little moue. "Unless, of course, we're surrendering to the Vulcans."
"We are doing no such thing," T'Pol said in a mild voice. "You have your orders. Now make that transmission."
Trip shook his head. "You're asking for trouble."
T'Pol adjusted her posture. "Lt. Reed, take Commander Tucker to the brig."
Malcolm stood up.
"Yes, sir." He looked at Trip. "Commander Tucker, report to my custody."
"What the . . .!" Then Trip slid his eyes over to Hoshi and, as if by a prearranged signal, they drew their phasers.
But Malcolm was quicker and he held more firepower. "I advise you to lower your weapons," he said. Then some sixth sense made him crouch slightly, and it was good that he did, because Hoshi was firing upon him.
He fired back - his phaser was set to stun.
But stun was not enough; Hoshi rose again, and Malcolm saw that she had set her phaser to kill.
How could she be resistant to stun?
He didn't know, but he instinctively clicked over to kill and, when Hoshi fired, he aimed back. As her shot hit the bridge, the navport burst into flame, but Malcolm's shot was truer, and Hoshi crumpled over.
Trip opened his mouth.
Malcolm stood back up. "Drop your weapon, Mr. Tucker. Drop it now."
Trip began to sob. "Cap'n Archer was like a father to me," he cried.
"Inheritance issues, Mr. Tucker?"
Trip threw down his weapon; in the white and gold light of the fire on the bridge, his face shone with tears.
T'Pol's eyes were large, admiring. "Lieutenant Reed, I see I can trust you," she said.
And she turned to him and there was something so needy in her that, Vulcan or not, he stepped towards her and put his hand on her upper arm. "T'Pol, please let me help you in anyway I can."
Her eyes reflected the fires devouring what was left of the bridge, and her mouth opened to speak and he found his lips upon her lips without awkwardness or shame, and she was sighing and her body was boneless, and he pushed her gently down on the floor, and his knee stayed between her slender thighs, and she reached up, her huge dark eyes never leaving his face, to unzip his suit and Malcolm's hands moved of their own accord and unfastened her uniform.
And then, as naturally as could be, he found himself in her green soul, and she was sighing and gasping against him and . . . beep.
Malcolm opened his eyes.
Blinking, he sat on the side of his bunk as the day rolled completely over him.
Day. Work. Food. Hope and then.
Funny how even outer space resolved itself into the same old constants.
Only the brief vivid promises of gunfire and a woman were there to keep him going.
And Malcolm rose and quickly cleaned himself off in the communal showers and dressed and shaved just as an officer should, so he could get through the day.
Then he went down to breakfast.
Here came Dr. Phlox.
What Malcolm liked best for breakfast was a dry nutrition bar, a cup of herbal tea, and a little peace and quiet. For that very reason, he always carried a preemptive stack of books and pads. Now he shuddered inwardly. Dr. Phlox was always difficult to take, but having to entertain him this early in the morning was a bit much.
Still: one had to be comradely. It was outer space, after all.
"Did you enjoy the movie last night?" Phlox said in a friendly booming way as he sat down.
"Um, good morning, Dr. Phlox," Malcolm said as his eyes moved to Phlox's tray.
He had never seen so much food. Some sort of pancakes. Several rolls. Little bowls of sauces. Strips of what could be meat side-by- side with rounds of what could be meat. Two saucers of differently colored gruel.
Malcolm swallowed. Perhaps he should just look away.
Oblivious, Dr. Phlox started digging in. "I love our ship breakfasts, Mr. Reed."
"So I see."
"We certainly don't eat like this back on Denobula."
Some don't eat like that here.
"What is that word? Yummy? Yummy."
"Let me ask you this, Lieutenant Reed. What would you call that genre of film we watched last night? With all those brown horses?"
Brown? What color were horses on Denobula? "I believe they call them *Westerns*."
"Ah, yes, Westerns," and Phlox continued to dig into his food with frightening relish. "By the way, Mr. Reed, I'm curious. Were your parents married?"
Malcolm sat up right. "Of course." Wait, was that the right thing to say? "Well, I suppose, basically, I imagine. They were. And are."
Dr. Phlox gave him a sidelong look. Malcolm had seen Phlox look at him that way before, as if he had taken Malcolm's measure and in some way found him wanting.
"I wasn't meaning to pry, Mr. Reed. However, marriage and the treatment of offspring are defining aspects of any culture. Did you know that I myself have three wives? No children yet. But give us time." Then he looked again at Malcolm. "It is very common to have multiple spouses on Denobula."
Phlox looked taken aback, well, he always looked slightly taken aback. Some species thing. "Each of my wives has three husbands. It's . . . the Denobulan way." He smiled at Malcolm. "You should try it."
The Denobulan way. Three. All threes.
T'Pol. T'Pol, his number one wife.
And, for number two, possibly that interesting dark-skinned woman in Engineering. Kelly, wasn't that her name?
Number three? Hoshi?
Yes, T'Pol gracing his pillow one night out of three, slow and sultry and intoxicating. The next night sleeping next to the black woman's satin skin. Then all the third night pretending to read in order to avoid the irritating Hoshi. Hoshi complaining to her second husband, Captain Archer, and to her third husband, Trip. The black woman laughing about him to Travis behind her hand and then on the third night confiding in a conjugal way to number three, Dr. Phlox, of the rolling eyes, of the pursing mouth. Phlox telling his second wife, Ensign Cutler, her telling her third husband, Ensign Who-was- it, Ensign Billy Something Something. And so, by the end of the week, everyone would be serviced and everyone would know everything, know it all, know all about every cell of Malcolm's body, and, oh, how they would laugh. The dark interior of Enterprise covered with their smiles and knowledge.
"Dr. Phlox, as we all have to work together on the ship, don't you think it could be rather awkward?"
Dr. Phlox opened his mouth wide to receive a bagel covered with a white sauce and a dark jelly. Then he said in a food-clogged voice, "I have found humans to be infinitely adaptable."
Malcolm walked down the hall. Now that that stupid breakfast was amortized, he could start his day.
He glanced through the portholes as he walked by them; out there the sky, enormous, palpable as the seven seas, spread its glittering infinity. The darkest blue. Wine-dark, actually.
Small wonder the stars and the seas had inspired better men than Malcolm Reed.
Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
Break break break. Good stuff; nobody had written anything like that in two hundred years.
O, well for the fisherman's boy, that he shouts with his sister at play!
Yes. Malcolm gave the vista a small dark smile. Oh well. Madeline. Mum and Dad's little mistake. Malcolm had been twelve years old, living with Aunt Shelley and going to school in Rawalpindi. On the com: Malcolm, you've got a little sister! He thought they were mad.
O, well for the sailor lad, That he sings in his boat on the bay!
Ha ha. Yes, the Royal Navy and the Reed family.
It was possible he could have been a Navy man. But every inch of the earth had already been explored; what was left for Malcolm? He should have been born three hundred years earlier.
Sailing with Cook `round the world.
Malcolm did like that look. The queue. The flat little hat. The striped teeshirt, close to the neck.
Sailing all about. A girl in every port. Pulling into, say, the Orkney. Maybe this time in the blue wool suit of the White Star line complete with its neatly made little officer's cap.
Throwing his manly duffel bag over his shoulder.
Ignoring the obvious (and frightening) prostitutes as he wended through tiny cobblestone streets.
Then he would see her.
All eyes and cheekbones. Waiting for her . . . brother. Yes, her brother.
But her brother was still at sea.
On the deck of a passing ship, the brother had hallooed to him and said, look up my sister if you're ever in the Orkney.
So Malcolm had, but he thought she would be a child, not this wild- eyed sprite with the body of a grown woman. She looked like a changeling, she did, with an elf's face. The narrow pointed chin and ears.
And she would invite him to her hovel for supper. Brown bread. Honey.
And the stately ships would go on to their haven under the hill.
Night. A full moon. She would offer him the sofa. Prickly horsehair sofa.
Fixed up with sheets she'd ironed.
The perfume of the sheets was her perfume, so sharp it cleared his head.
He would never have seduced so innocent a woman-child, but in truth it was she who had seduced him.
When she leaned over him, he smelled the raw honey of her fragrance and pulled her to him.
This isn't right, he whispered.
She just stared at him.
I mean, he swallowed, it's not what your brother would want.
Her only response was to kiss him.
And he let her kiss him til he could stand it no further and he stood up and took her by the hand to her chaste little bed folded neatly as paper under the stars and the wine-dark sky of an Orkney evening, and there the promised love unfolded.
O for the touch of a vanish'd hand!
Surrendering himself to the scented honey of her lips.
The next day he would ship out.
Her huge honey-brown eyes watching him.
Break break break at the foot of thy crags, O Sea! but the tender grace of a day that is dead will never come back to me.
And Malcolm sighed and entered the bridge.
Hoshi was already at her station.
Malcolm. Not Lt. Reed, but Malcolm.
"Looks like someone's a little late," she said in a sing-song voice. Pestering him, just pestering him. Since the Captain wasn't even there yet, she was simply being mean.
Malcolm sat down at his station and refreshed the readings on his viewscreen. Then he looked up. And Hoshi quickly turned her head away. Had she been looking at him? Horrors.
Suddenly he hated being on the bridge, he hated Hoshi rolling her eyes at him, he hated being there.
He took a deep breath and stared at his viewscreen.
And he was naked and on his hands and knees.
The empress gazed at him as she took another slow drag from her orange hookah.
Something hard and metal hit Malcolm on the side of the head. He had always thought *seeing stars* an ineffective metaphor for the inside of one's head exploding, but obviously he was wrong. Then he was kicked in the kidneys by someone who knew just where to kick.
"Don't look at the Empress Sato that way, slave!" Ah, it was the evil slave master . . . Phlox. And now Phlox was bowing. "My most abject and lowly apologies, My Lady. These upstart slaves can be so forward."
The empress closed her heavy-lidded eyes and made a cunning little moue. "Stop groveling, Phlox. You will receive your gold, no matter what. Now give him to the slave captain."
A tall well-built man -- was it the slave captain? - stepped forward and smirked at Malcolm.
"Yes, Archer, you may do with him as you wish," her voice sounded smoky and intoxicated, "until it's my turn."
"No," Malcolm screamed, but no one paid any attention as he was dragged away to a dark blood-scented dungeon.
Where a golden-haired gladiator said: "Look what we got us here."
"Oh, Trip, does that motherfucker have him some booty," said a young black man standing by the gladiator.
"I can't wait," said the slave captain. Then he turned to the others and said, "Good morning, crew."
"Good morning, Captain," they all said.
"Back to your stations." And Captain Archer took his chair.
Malcolm breathed out.
Too farfetched, anyway. Idiotically so. You had to take care with your fantasies or you wouldn't enjoy them. Take care with your fantasies. His father. Stay disciplined, Malcolm. Do your duty. Stay disciplined even in your fantasies.
Hoshi was irritating, but hardly an empress.
He glared at her - she looked innocent enough, even as she was probably plotting something else to make him or Travis feel awkward.
Then the captain looked up.
Trip Tucker had wandered onto the bridge.
"Commander Tucker," Captain Archer said with a smile. "Ready for our briefing?"
*Ready* for OUR *briefing*?
"Aye, Cap'n," Trip said and smiled back.
"Let's go to my ready room."
And, like that, they were gone.
Malcolm ran his fingers over his intricate calibrations.
Wouldn't it be interesting to follow Trip and the captain into one of their intimate briefings?
One where he was naked and on his hands and knees.
"What you wantin, cap?" Tucker said.
"Trip, get all that finished up so it suits you. Meanwhile I know what I want."
Trip and Travis quickly stripped down to their underwear as Archer stayed in the shadows watching, his eyes dark under his heavy brows.
"Who's first?" Trip said. "Travis, you look sho nuff ready. Why don't you break our little girlfriend in?"
Travis said nothing but got on his knees and began to rhythmically move into Malcolm.
Malcolm could never have admitted it, but he liked this. He liked being used in this impersonal but intimate way. He liked being a unknown piece of ass for these beautiful beings; it was comfortable to be so unknown and yet so necessary.
Travis finished up and Trip started in, more excited, more uninhibited than Travis, and quicker too; then after he finished, he slapped Malcolm's buttocks. "Not bad."
Archer stepped forward, his dark eyes unreadable in the gloom.
"Your turn, Cap'n," Trip said to him in an amiable way.
"I agree. Trip, you know what I want."
Malcolm rolled over on his side.
"Be my girl, Trip," Archer said. "That's an order."
Trip just stood there, pleasant, perfect, with his huge shoulders and arms, his narrow girlish wrists, his slim waist and full buttocks.
"Get on your knees, Trip. I need to teach you a lesson." So Trip knelt, and Archer knelt too and took off his belt and forced it around Trip's neck.
Malcolm couldn't tear his eyes away as Archer began fucking Trip, one delicately-boned hand on Trip's firm ass, the other holding the belt around Trip's neck.
From where Malcolm was, he could tell Trip was reacting, his breath coming in gasps, his nostrils flaring, his face and back turning red with exertion.
Archer certainly had a big one, the biggest actually - very nice, very very nice, and he was making Trip take all of it like the little bitch he was. Yet Trip naked was all boy, a little boy, Daddy's boy, Daddy's bitch boy, and Archer's face was dark and set - he liked fucking his boy in a rough way.
Malcolm was amazed.
It must have felt good because Trip was groaning. Then Malcolm looked down at himself. He was as aroused as they were, but he was tied up and he had nowhere to fuck, not ass, nothing, not his own hand, and he moved himself against the air and Archer lunged again and again into Trip and he let go of the belt and grabbed Trip's firm buttocks with both hands and was moving against him, his eyes closed, as if in an almost an out-of-body experience, as if in a different gear from where coming was the point to where the point was to fuck as long as you could and make Trip's ass raw.
A door opened.
And Captain Archer came back on the bridge. He looked quite pleased with himself.
"Commander Tucker says our engines are running smooth as silk. I know you'll all enjoy hearing that, especially you, Hoshi."
And everyone gave everyone else a collegial smile.
Archer sat back down in the captain's chair.
And his com beeped. "Captain Archer here."
"This is Dr. Phlox. Captain, I'd like permission to purge the decon filters."
"Is something wrong, Dr. Phlox?"
"No, not really, but, if the normal filtering system isn't used for a couple of weeks, it can become passively contaminated."
"I'll get Commander Tucker on it now."
"Thank you, Captain. Phlox out."
"Hoshi, you heard that? Contact Trip and tell him to what Phlox needs."
What Phlox needs.
Malcolm looked at his viewscreen.
And Dr. Phlox looked at them through the decon filter window and said, "I've never seen anything like this. Your level of contamination is so high you'll need to spend at least three hours in decon."
Malcolm looked at Travis, who was rolling his eyes at Trip.
Then Trip sighed and said, "Doc, I ain't got the time just to stand around here."
"Yes, you do," said Dr. Phlox cheerfully and pulled the shutter down.
"Crap," Trip said and looked back at Travis and Malcolm.
"We might as well do it," said Travis agreeably. "There's the decon gel."
They all began to strip down to their underwear. Then Malcolm picked up the gel and started to rub it on his chest.
As did Travis. "It's cold," he said.
So it was: decon should be warmer.
But, as they continued to rub the gel, it started to warm up and make subtle tingling pockets of warmth all over their smooth chests and thighs and arms and underarms and then Trip was the first, shyly pulling his briefs off and rubbing himself everywhere, and Malcolm had his eyes almost shut but a lightning glimpse from under his lashes saw Trip smoothing it on lower and lower down on his flat stomach and now Travis was pulling off his briefs too.
And Travis rubbed the gel on his stomach, his flat and impeccably muscled stomach, and Malcolm thought he should follow suit so he leaned against the wall and pulled off his briefs.
And now all three of them were naked.
"Anybody need any help?" Trip said. It sounded like "Innybidy need inny hep?"
"I think I'm covered," Travis said.
"Do you need help, Trip?" Malcolm asked.
"Naw, I can reach my own body."
Travis looked a little shy. "Should we rub this stuff all over? I mean, *all* over?"
"That depends, Travis. Where don't you want to rub it?"
Then everyone smiled.
And kept rubbing the decon gel over their bodies. Then Trip sat down and Malcolm and Travis followed.
It was easy to feel as if one were in a dream in decon. Naked and unashamed. One felt out of oneself, one felt as if one could stay there forever. Dazed, nearly drugged by one's own feelings.
And, when Trip began to speak, he sounded sleepy, groggy, as if he were reciting a dream. "You know, it's like the beach in here. A man could have a good time. If he had him a half a pint of gin." Travis snickered. Then Trip sighed again. "The prettiest girl I ever saw was on a beach. Brown wavy hair down to her waist. A little bit chubby, not skinny, I mean, just proportionate. Brown legs, little brown toes in her white sandals. Pink and white bikini. Just too damn cute for words." His breathing became hoarse. "She was lying right there on the sand. Sunbathing. Her knees in the air. Maybe fifteen inches apart. Quite a sight."
None of them had done it yet, but it was just a matter of seconds before they moved their hands down their slick bodies.
Because they were sitting there with their legs open and now each of them was hard.
Trip opened his eyes. "That's some hard-on, Travis," he said. "That's just plain amazing."
"You're okay too," Travis said in a lazy drawl.
"And Malcolm makes three", Trip said with a smile. "Hey, I might could walk in on her in the changing room. She turns around. She's naked, and her skin's pale where the bikini was. Or she's wearing a little bitty bra and a little bitty thong and she's facing away from me, and she turns around and I see the look on her face." Now they were all breathing heavily. "Or she's sitting in a chair naked and I'm down on my knees like I'm saying a little prayer and I'm kissing her all over down there and she's slick and sweet and she says *ooh*."
And, with what was almost a sense of relief, Trip's hand moved down to his erection and began to shuffle back and forth.
Then Travis spoke up, "Will that be all, sir?"
"Thanks, Travis. You're dismissed."
Travis stood up to leave the bridge. Shy. Soft-spoken. Gracious and polite.
Oh, the captain was looking at him.
Surprised, Malcolm rocked forward and composed himself. "Sir?"
Surely no one had noticed anything.
"You had mentioned taking the helm later today. You may do so at 1400 hours."
"Aye, sir," and Malcolm made minute unnecessary adjustments to his view screen.
"One other thing. I'm going to want the armament status report before then. Can you check when you break for lunch?"
"I'll go to the armory room now, sir."
"Very well. Report back after lunch."
And Malcolm left the bridge.
Oh, this was rather more like it. This was the real thing. Striding manfully towards the armory room.
Now he was doing his duty. Now he was doing his bit. Now he was going down the hall being Malcolm, fully, completely . . . uh-oh.
There she was. Moving towards him with that eerie listlessness that marked every gesture she made.
In dreams he had walked with her.
She looked at him, her gestures as gentle as a dream, as surprising as a dream. And he saw she was holding a book. He could just barely make out the cover. Possibly some sort of . . . poetry?
"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?
Now her sweet small dark head moved slightly. No doubt wondering what he wanted.
Malcolm took a shuddering breath. "Did Captain Archer say how long we would be at warp?"
"He and Commander Tucker have not decided yet, I believe." Did her eyes widen and go dark when she said Trip's name?
"I didn't know you read earth poetry," he babbled, willing to attempt anything to stay in the green-tea splendor of her fragrance. "Did you get to study it?"
"Not really. 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. "Too bad."
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. She was so beautiful, so alien. "I mean, Subcommander, you might like our poetry. T.S. Eliot, for example. I believe you would enjoy Eliot. He writes about mermaids. Do you know what mermaids are?" He was just saying nonsense.
But it didn't matter because something had caught her eye and now she was looking away. He stared as if to impress her perfect nose, her perfect lips on his soul and in his blood.
And it was Hoshi she was looking at. Ambling down the hall. Perfectly pleasant and intelligent and pointless and irritating.
"Hi, guys!" she said brightly. "What's cooking?"
"We were discussing human poetry," Malcolm said and shut his eyes.
"Yes," T'Pol said, "Lieutenant Reed was recommending that I read the works of . . . Eliot, was it?"
"Well, he's pretty good, Malcolm," Hoshi twanged in her loud American- girl way, "but I'm making Subcommander T'Pol read Yeats. Yeats has a lot of mysticism."
Malcolm was suddenly furious at Hoshi, at her blithe dismissal of T'Pol's great organic mysticism.
Still, T'Pol stayed chilly and gracious. "I have observed his mysticism, Ensign Sato. I have also noticed 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.
"Leda and the Swan?" T'Pol said in that maddeningly slow way.
(Oh, T'Pol could have been his swan; she could have been his big long- necked, long-legged swan; she would have to dip that long swan neck down to kiss him. And suddenly he hated himself, hated the filth that was Malcolm, hated his corrupt clawing and jolting against the sturdy sullen flesh of Ruby or Deborah or whomever. Meanwhile, this pure maidenly goddess, his own Diana whom he could crown forever as his gleaming queen of the stars, was listening patiently to Hoshi chatter 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 hips sway and light the hall like a star.
Then she disappeared with Hoshi in a doorway.
And Malcolm was alone again.
He walked on.
Lacy underwear under the pedestrian jump suits? Actually, it was more fetching to think of them in their standard-issue tanktops and trunks. Touching each other. Winding their fingers around each other, tugging the underwear off. Hoshi, slithering like an incubus, finding T'Pol's huge nipples with her finger tips as they kissed, all salt and tongue and wet.
Then Hoshi would slide those small white hands down over T'Pol's breasts and lower down, to the great meeting of her thighs, and T'Pol would gasp out loud and lean back, opening her legs.
But were women really that mad for it?
And kept walking.
The armory room had a baroque collection of timed locks and chromium seals and drop-forged fastenings; only Malcolm could unlock its vast mysteries. The armory room was his.
He opened the big double-doors of the weapons locker.
Each piece in its place.
He ran his hand over the phase pistols. They were perfectly aligned, and Malcolm breathed out with relief. He never felt comfortable while a piece was out.
He took one phaser out. Interesting that there were no treaties in outer space. There were protocols, but no one had actually ever said, no, you can't trade armaments with the new races. That was one reason he'd joined Starfleet -- nobody was much interested in earth armaments anymore, but out here it was a strange new world.
Malcolm Reed. Interplanetary Arms Merchant.
Malcolm smiled. Foolishness.
Counting pieces. Counting cases too. Twirling the phaser in his hand.
A little bit of make-believe, only one called it a drill.
A drill, that was an excellent idea. Feel the wind of emergency in one's lungs.
Just to be prepared. To be prepared if one, for example, should have to land on a new planet.
With a new alien race. A wildly unpredictable race. A jungle race!
Featuring, say, a fat jungle overlord, obese, chatty, threatening. Perhaps some exotic and repellent color: possibly olive green!
With a brace of luscious jungle vixens standing by his throne. Tall, big-bummed, like Chinese ponies.
The old windbag chieftain would offer the vixens as a bribe to get Malcolm to ease up on his brutal bartering.
Malcolm: Sam Browne belt, open-necked jumpsuit, sleeves rolled up, knee-high boots.
And a scarf.
He touched his neck. One day back on earth, his company had received a shipment of items made from a new fabric.
What had it been called? Ah, Cyolon. Yes, Cyolon.
Cyolon wouldn't catch on fire, it was impermeable to water, it filtered out ninety per cent of all known toxins, and it could even serve as a skin substitute for burn victims.
And it looked good made into a black scarf tied rakishly around one's neck.
"Let my . . . wards assist you, Mr. Reed," the grotesque jungle windbag would purr.
"I don't think so."
Well, wait, that was hardly fun.
Instead Malcolm would merely lift a sardonic eyebrow.
The luscious exotic jungle vixens would slink over to him, one on his left, one on his right. Olive hair the approximate texture of braided rags. Their large apple-red eyes shone as they looked at him.
Long fingers, long fingernails.
Running down the front of his Sam Browne.
Malcolm giving them a cool once-over as he unholstered his phaser.
Holding it across his chest.
The olive jungle vixens looking at him and pouting. Wanting that gun.
How much did they want this gun? And what, pray, did they have to give for it?
Malcolm gave himself a small smile.
Then he looked at the clock. Lunch time.
His shoulders slumped a bit. Where had the time gone? He certainly wasn't hungry; he knew that.
He locked the armory door carefully and walked back down the hall.
And, as he turned the corner, he saw a door close.
Had he just heard a girl's . . . giggle . . . followed by a man's laugh?
And there was a soft knock at the door.
Trip jumped up and pulled the sheet against his bare flesh. "Who's that?"
T'Pol gave him a lazy look. "It must be Malcolm."
Trip looked around, his nostrils flaring. "There's only one way out, baby - - you got me trapped in here!"
"That's how I want it," she said in a slow voice. Then, deliberately (she did everything deliberately) she spread those long legs and Trip dropped the sheet.
"They say it can be done more than one way. Had you heard that?"
Trip swallowed hard. "I'm a fool to be here, T'Pol."
There was another knock at the door.
"Malcolm can wait," she said.
He looked at her. Something so good down there. Fragrant and damp and green, like a water oak on a spring day in the rain.
He just couldn't go out the door.
Sighing, he fell to his knees beside the bed. "Bring it over here, baby."
And she scooted herself naked to the side of the bed, and he took her satin legs and placed them on his shoulders and began to kiss her green essence.
She made high yipping sounds and pulsed against him.
"I sure didn't know you'd want it that much," he said and rolled her back on the bed; then he lay down on top of her, parting her knees with his strong thighs, and at last slipping right into her slick self, and it felt good, it felt better than good. Because she was hotter than the average and wetter than the norm, and right now she was his.
"Baby, let's mess up these sheets," he said and began to move.
She locked her elegant ankles around his waist and he plunged again and again against her until every inch of him was sore and the best inches were the sorest. And, when he finally came, as warm-skinned and drenched in sweat as she was, it was hard to say how much was pleasure and how much was pain.
"Looks like Malcolm`s faced reality," he whispered in the beautiful over-sized shells of her ears. "Looks like Malcolm's went away."
She said nothing, just idly slid a fingernail along his damp back.
"I gotta take a little piss, baby, but I'll be right back."
Her head ticked a little when he said `piss' and her big eyes never lost their solemn look, but he kissed her neck and stood up and went into her rest station.
Where Malcolm was waiting for him with his phaser drawn.
"What is this?" Trip gasped.
"I think you know." Malcolm's tones were icy, frightening.
"How'd you get in here?"
"Well, Mr. Tucker, I removed the bulkhead panel while you were making all those rude noises."
"Now keep your shirt on, pal. Don't do something stupid. I mean, I wouldn't have done anything the lady didn't want done. I'm a gentleman."
"You don't appear to be a gentleman. You appear to be a stack of lies with a willy."
"We gonna have to be reasonable about this one, Malcolm." Then Trip heard something stir behind and he turned his head.
T'Pol was standing there. And, oddly enough, she was smiling. "Trip raped me, Malcolm," she said as naturally as breathing.
And Trip shut his eyes and said, "Mind if I sit here?"
Looking up from the padds lying beside him, Malcolm rocked forward a little. Trip. It was Trip. And he had a tray of food. Friendly. Clean-cut. On the job.
"Oh, yes, please join me, Commander Tucker."
Trip sat and leaned in. "You know what you can call me."
What . . . oh, he meant, "Trip," Malcolm said with what he hoped was a serene smile. "Yes, Trip."
And Trip sat down and started eating, no preface, just a "damn, this is good. Chef knows his stuff, dudn't he?" and then he dug right in.
"I. . . what are you having?"
"Same as you." Trip took another big spoonful.
Malcolm looked at his plate. "It is good," he said dolefully. What was that on his plate? A jellied sort of . . . flesh patty, it seemed. Some warmed dough thing beside it. Disgusting the way food always was if one thought about it.
"You didn't eat hardly anything, Malcolm."
Malcolm looked at Trip. Concerned, but still shoveling it in. Well, more fodder for the bio-matter re-sequencer.
"You need to go to sick bay, Malcolm?"
"No, I had a huge . . ." what meal was this? "I had a huge amount of food earlier. Cereals. So forth."
"Man, I love the breakfast buffet. Reminds me of home."
"Me too," Malcolm said.
Trip walked with that Billy person towards the bridge, and Malcolm followed them for a bit, watching carefully.
But then he turned when he reached the gym. Regulations held that the crew always had to spend at least one hour a day on the walking machines, which was the standard exercise plan for extraplanetary voyages. Not only did researchers find that the program added to one's physical fitness, but it also added to one's mental powers as well. Not to mention the usefulness of the energy generated. Malcolm was always scheduled for the hour after lunch.
But that wasn't important actually. Malcolm just liked to walk. Alone on a long stroll. He had always liked to do that; it gave him time to consider things.
And there were a lot of things to consider.
He got on the treadmill and keyed in the beach-enviro setting.
T'Pol, for instance.
Awful how she'd spoiled him for other women.
Just because of her he might have to become an old salt on a far- flung planet and never be cast away on the fabled shores of matrimony.
He shut his eyes and kept walking.
Caitlyn. Oh god oh god, how humiliating. Doomed, like who-was-it in Dickens, Marley, yes, Scrooge's partner Marley, doomed to relive every horrible event he'd ever been involved in.
"My name is Caitlyn," she had said.
Malcolm breathed out.
It would have been nice to have been honest and straight and sexy like all the other officers. Who were circling their dates, closing in on them like pretty ponies in a sweet corral. Tinkly jazz playing on the hi-fi. Couples in the corner throwing their heads back in laughter. The gold lamplight warm against the gray fabric of the walls.
But that wasn't his way. "Tell me about yourself, Caitlyn," he had said.
She was a teacher. She liked it okay. She taught eighth grade. She liked her students. She had always wanted to be a teacher so she guessed she got what she wanted.
He had had six beers, that was enough, and so he leaned in and kissed her - her mouth, her breath were reasonable.
"I've been wanting to do that all night," he said, not completely dishonestly.
She looked at him. A fathomless look.
He kissed her again, pressing himself against her. With enough beer, he could forget who they both were. "Do you think we ought to go back to my room? Or do I presume?"
She said it was okay.
Back in the room, he quickly finished his last beer.
To get it over with, to get it all over with.
"I'm sorry my quarters aren't nicer."
She said they were all right. She said they were comfortable-looking.
Then he made a move. He would never ask himself why he was doing this. Maybe it was the draw of her resistless shoulders. They were soft. Soft as rot.
No, shake that thought.
He unbuttoned her many-buttoned blouse and let his hands drift down her passive body.
Tits. First tits, then bum. She had nice tits.
He moved his hands back behind her and pulled her to him, his hands on her bum.
If he could just keep touching the bum, he'd be okay, he'd be aroused.
Because, unfortunately, there was always something a little unsettling about women. Their secret biology. Mother. Sister. Them. Their intimacy. Their . . . laundry. He never wanted to know. Fastidiously doing his own washing. His mother looking at him fondly: oh Malcolm you are a good son you are. Not knowing he couldn't stand the frightening stew of women's worn clothing.
Stop. He had to stop thinking that way or he'd never become aroused.
Now he'd forgotten this one's name.
Oh god oh god.
His hands were still on her, pulling the skirt up, focusing on the bum.
Penny? Della? Oh hell.
Even now, the memory of that evening made him flush with shame. Yes, they had had a kind of unnerved sex. They'd had a sex where he could barely stand to touch her and hadn't known her name.
After that she'd stormed off. Her eyes red.
Him at his age.
He breathed out.
Men. Now men. Men. Hmmm. Men.
Men. No one could deny the array of attractive men posing about Enterprise.
Trip, for instance.
So what would Trip be like? Really.
"My name's Trip," he could say. Open-faced. Golden.
And he'd sit down right beside Malcolm on the sofa.
Tinkly jazz playing on the hi-fi. Couples in the corner throwing their heads back in laughter. The gold lamplight warm against the gray fabric of the walls.
Why couldn't that have happened instead?
"Gimme another one of those Budweisers," Trip would have said.
Commander Tucker. A vivid cowboy as they say: wild as the west Texas wind. Trailing clouds of joy as he went.
And Malcolm (he would be conscious of the air around him, conscious of walking over to the beer cooler and bending over and lifting it, conscious of his slight nothing of a body) looked back and handed the beer to Trip who seemingly deliberately covered Malcolm's hand with his own as he took the beer.
The warmth of Trip's hand rippled through Malcolm's body, and he became slightly aroused.
Trip was leaning into him, closer than ever. "What d'you do for fun around here? I mean, do you ever go with guys?"
Malcolm turned and looked at Trip, at Trip's mouth, at his handsome golden features.
"Sexually?" Malcolm said.
"Man, I love your accent. That's just so neat." He paused. "Yeah, sex, I mean. Do you go with guys? I mean, I reckon it's obvious why I'm asking."
"Then my response should be equally obvious."
"You want to go back to my quarters?"
"I think I'd like that."
"Well, good," and the simplicity of Trip's smile made Malcolm know it was worth it.
It wasn't a long walk, they talked all the way there, but Malcolm had no idea what he was saying. Six beers and he seemed unconscious.
Trip unlocked his door and then made an ironic little bow as Malcolm walked in.
"Sorry they're not cleaner. I'm a real bachelor."
"Oh, I can tell."
"I love your voice, did I say that?" He touched Malcolm's elbow. "Want a brandy? Another beer? I got some Mexican." Then he fussed around his tiny kitchen for a moment and brought out two opened beers. "Let's us sit down."
And he waited until Malcolm sat on the sofa and then sat beside him. And put his arm around him.
"If I were a girl, I'd say you were trying to seduce me," Malcolm heard himself slur.
"That sounds about right." And then Trip leaned over until he was facing Malcolm. "You don't mind? You're sure about that?"
"I rather want it," Malcolm said wetly.
And now they put aside the beers and started kissing in earnest.
Malcolm opened his mouth and Trip used the barest tip of his clean tongue and Malcolm felt his face grow warm.
And Malcolm could tell Trip was sincere. Trip liked him. Trip said, "Now you don't have to do nothin you don't wanna do."
"I assure you I'm not."
And they kissed some more, Trip pausing to take off his sweater, showing big arms, big pecs, graceful wrists. And Malcolm took off his jacket too and his shirt. Then they fell back into each other's arms.
Trip would be naked, naked soon.
Trip's bum. Probably like iron.
And so Malcolm unfastened Trip's belt and opened his pants and Trip lifted himself a little and then rolled his pants off himself -- Malcolm watching him carefully through those half-shut eyes.
Then he touched Trip. There. "I've been wanting to do that all night," he whispered. Oh, Trip had a big cock, wide at the base, big- knobbed like a horse.
A man could get lost worshiping a cock this size. A man could find out what he really liked sucking a cock this size. And a man could find a great deal of satisfaction with a cock like this inside him.
"Allow me," Malcolm said and got on his knees and Trip moved that monster back against his throat and Malcolm relaxed his throat muscles as much as he could because he wanted to take it all in.
But then Trip pulled back, "Listen, I like to suck cocks too. Stand up."
And Malcolm stood up aroused, and he looked down at Trip's boyface and its open mouth and shut eyes and he saw his cock going into Trip's soft mobile mouth and he began to pant and shiver.
And the door to the gym opened.
Malcolm took a deep breath; a new group of people had entered.
He had been there almost a hour.
And now a blank-faced member of the galley staff was standing beside him. Wanting his treadmill.
Nothing to do but sign out.
That delicious Trip interlude had never happened.
Malcolm raised his chin.
A regular . . . rock and a hard place.
Men and women.
Fantasy and reality.
Well, back to it.
As Malcolm walked back to the bridge, he looked again out the port window at the great meandering constellations.
Odd that there were so many star systems and they never met. Much like people, really.
Wouldn't be bad to be a little more like the stars, actually. The problem with intimacy was that, when people found out what you were up to, they might . . . take exception to it; they might even berate you mercilessly like an angry father.
But even so one couldn't help wondering.
Like window shopping.
Captain Archer? What were Captain Archer's dreams? Possibly something marine, some water polo thing. Men flailing around in the water hoping to touch each other. Just a big good-natured lad.
Trip and Travis. Perhaps the old jiggedyjig with some alien females and then home to Mother.
Hoshi. She probably still wanted him. He shuddered. Predatory, that's all she was, predatory. She'd conquer him and then run off. A vicious, hysterical, praying mantis of a girl.
Dr. Phlox. Well, Heaven only knew. That was probably one for the record books.
Then there was T'Pol.
What did she want on those starlit nights?
Or the starlit days for that matter?
An enigma wrapped in a riddle, she was. Seventy years old. Small wonder that, despite her great beauty, there was a certain used quality. Which was fine with Malcolm, but one had to wonder why she always seemed a bit haunted. And it was all guff about the emotionless Vulcans; T'Pol sometimes gave the impression of nothing but restrained power, as if she were the soul of a tiger inside the skin of a Vulcan.
He noticed - well, that was the first day on the bridge, right? - he had noticed where the fastening on her suit was.
The fastening on her soul: what would it take to undo that?
The stars spun in their sober orbits.
And what about that every-seven-years business? Could one actually put any credence in it?
He'd said it once and he'd say it again, frightening.
Seven years of T'Pol's darkest emotions and lusts building. He knew what he himself went through every day; suppose there were seven years of that.
And the captain, drawn, haggard, eyes glazed over, said to Malcolm, "It's your turn."
"Sir, what about Commander Tucker?"
"Trip's in sickbay."
"Captain, can Dr. Phlox not help?"
"He's preparing a sedative hypospray, but Vulcan physiology is tricky. They are more alien than we could have imagined." Captain Archer's eyes were helpless, looking inward, staring at nothing.
"We're doing it by rank." The captain rubbed a large hand across his face. "The Vulcan high command won't respond. I suspect this is something they don't talk about." He looked at Malcolm. "Subcommander T'Pol needs you, Malcolm, and that's that."
Malcolm walked into her dark ozone-scented quarters.
And writhing on to her bed was Subcommander T'Pol, pale and naked, covered with sweat, and she kept saying one guttural syllable over and over again.
What was she saying? Was she saying *more*?
She groaned again: that syllable.
And Malcolm pulled his shirt off.
She gave him a look, direct and feral.
"I'm here, darling, here for you."
She only growled.
And opened those long fragrant legs.
Malcolm gasped; her beauty was compelling, disgusting, disorienting. Then he took his pack up from the floor and drew out a length of rope.
"This is just for your own good," he whispered. "Just for a little equilibrium," and he tied her slippery hands to the bed, but, when he leaned over to take her left foot, naked and curvy and desirable as her body, she kicked blindly out at him.
However, Malcolm was quicker and caught her leg in mid-kick. "Clever girl, but not clever enough." And, grabbing her hands, he untied them and rolled her over on her stomach; then he retied her hands to the bed and, with an elaborate set of knots and twistings, pinned her legs under her so that she was lying there helpless and open, face down on the bed.
Then he took off the rest of his clothes.
"I want you to be peaceful, darling," and he placed himself inside her; now she was nothing but ass for him, and he felt as if he were pumping into the heart of blood and he kept pushing against her and whispering to her as one would to a wild animal.
There was no question of his coming, of her coming; this wasn't sex, it was more real than sex (not that there wasn't a certain excitement over taking her after the captain and Trip had worked themselves to exhaustion prodding their own big club-like cocks again and again into her too-willing flesh.)
She was bruised and the whole room smelled of her desires but she was still beautiful and innocent; the feelings she had were in her blood and not her soul, and after a while, Malcolm felt as if he'd been inside her forever, as if they were inflaming each other, feeding each other's quiet fire.
And as he moved, he whispered, it's me, Malcolm, remember this, darling, remember this.
When he opened the door to the bridge, the captain was waiting for him. "Mr. Reed, you have the helm," he said with a smile.
Malcolm loved steering. He loved being in control of the great ship as she slid her pretty way through the stars. Driving soothed him; compelling but mindless, he could get a lot of thinking done while he was driving.
As he set the coordinates for his shift, he heard something.
A slow trumpet.
And there she was. His queen of soiled sheets and stolen seconds.
"Sounds like a trumpet solo to me," she smiled and reached up and touched that little hairline moustache he favored.
And Malcolm put his arms around her and whispered into her stiff peroxided hair, "Want to fuck during a Trip Tucker trumpet solo?"
It was an old joke between them. Because, if Trip were on stage with his trumpet, Malcolm and Ruby could find an unused dressing room, one with a dirty mattress on its floor, and take a tiny little pleasure break.
Good, the first room they found was empty, and Malcolm closed the door and turned to Ruby and she turned to him and they fell together.
Getting inside Ruby was like being in a barn during a rainstorm, nothing fancy, but still altogether satisfying, wet and big and moving and commonplace, yet a beautiful experience for all of that.
And Trip kept blowing his trumpet as they both turned over as if they'd practiced (and hadn't they, a lot actually) and she was on top and rode Malcolm all the way to a comfortable ecstasy, the kind he always felt with her, her big tits, her soft thighs.
Then, when they were through, he got her cigarettes from her skirt pocket and they shared a smoke.
Ruby had just given the cigarette to Malcolm and he had taken a drag when they heard it.
"My turn," a familiar voice said.
"Trip," Ruby said.
The Trip man. Tripster. Triptripareeno. He was finished with his solo and was standing at the door to the dressing room and they hadn't even noticed.
Then Trip took his cigarette out of his mouth and pushed the porkpie hat back on his head. "Come on, Ruby," he said, a touch of sharpness in his voice.
"Trip," Malcolm said.
"You through, cocksucker? You bet your ass you are. Now we gotta let Ruby get a load of her real daddy." And, as Malcolm rose from beside the huge-eyed Ruby, Trip was lowering his pants to his knees. "Ruby, who's your daddy, I mean who IS your daddy," and, before he said another sentence or before Ruby could say anything at all, he was methodically pounding into her.
Malcolm watched for a moment and then went on out to the backstage area.
Travis was sitting there, his sunglasses masking his blankly handsome features.
"Good crowd, eh?" Malcolm said.
Travis didn't look at him. "Let me know if anybody wants some action, okay, man."
"Very well." Action was all anybody wanted; the 602 Club was humid with the desires and wants of its disparate audience.
Malcolm wandered on.
Then he saw her -- it was as if a goddess had decided to come to the 602 to hear Trip Tucker and his band.
A goddess, olive-skinned, with short dark hair and huge white pearls on her oddly-shaped ears. She was wearing a white strapless gown with a skirt so full she seemed to be emerging from a cloud and her pretty feet were in wicked white stilettoes.
And she just stood there while her date talked to Old Man Phlox, the backstage manager.
Malcolm wound his way a little closer.
He had never seen a woman so perfect.
But her date must have had second sight because he turned as if he sensed Malcolm's interest. A Navy man he was, still in his stiff blue uniform.
"Get lost, cocksucker," he said to Malcolm. "This isn't a spectator sport."
"That's the second time I've been called a cocksucker in the last ten minutes. What do you suppose is going on?"
The goddess gave Malcolm a warm glance; then she looked at her date. "Jonathan, leave the guy alone," she said.
Old Man Phlox turned to Malcolm too. "Can you get Travis? These people want things."
Malcolm nodded and looked at her again.
Her slanted exotic beautiful eyes met his as if she were hypnotizing him.
He breathed out and then left.
Travis was still sitting where Malcolm had left him. "I believe you have an sales opportunity. Go see Phlox."
Travis left and was back in five minutes.
Malcolm was curious. "What did they buy?"
Travis opened his palm and Malcolm saw the blood-red capsules he was holding. "Two of these for the lady, six for the asshole with her."
"Isn't that likely to kill him?"
They looked at each other. Then Travis shrugged. "You want some, Malcolm?"
"Just one." And he opened his mouth while Travis popped it in.
The first symptom was a numbing along the gumline.
"Tell you what, Travis, I think Trip wants a couple too."
"Roger, over and over and over and out out out," Travis said and sleepily wandered off.
Then Malcolm waited patiently with his arms folded for the show inside him to begin.
The filthy velvet of the stage curtain at the 602 was like a woman's hand against his back. He leaned back and stroked his mustache as he listened.
As he listened for things.
He liked this. He liked this a lot. The air was making the most fabulous droning sound.
Then he heard it. Somewhere nearby the Navy guy was fucking his girl, his perfect girl. Malcolm could tell it from the motions of the air.
Well, that could be to watch; besides, she might need a new friend before too long.
He followed the moving air and found them going at it near the back exit.
As he stood there, the Navy guy slid his eyes towards Malcolm, too drugged to speak now, too dazed to have an opinion about Malcolm.
Malcolm was completely unconcerned. Nothing wrong with watching for a bit. The Navy guy had his goddess' skirt pulled up and was just bucking away at her.
What an idiot.
Then Malcolm heard Trip. Trip was back on the stage.
Malcolm smiled and relaxed. Now he really was in for a good time. He could watch this goddess take it and take it while Trip sang, particularly while Trip sang the song that everybody loved.
Nobody knew its real, presumably dirty lyrics, but it was Trip's dark glee that made the song work. The crowd roared as he sang, ""Shit I got gonna bust you brains out, baby, yeah, it's gonna make you lose you mind."
Another part of the charm of this obscene siren song was the little dance step Trip and Travis made as they played. They moved together effortlessly, step left, step right, step forward, step back, Trip on the trumpet, Travis on the tenor sax, and the audience went wild: every now and then Trip would shout out more of the song's largely gnostic words: "shit's gonna bust you brains out baby gonna make you lose you mind" and there were other words too, "law's a frigerator" "hematoma rising" "Saddidy night" "Bobby stop breakin down."
The audience couldn't get enough of Trip. He was damaged beyond belief and completely functional at the same time. The little dance he was doing was part of his damage and his function. Everybody in history had always loved a successful sociopath, and Trip was just another example.
Step left, step right, step forward: "Shits gonna bust you brains out baby gonna make you lose you mind".
Malcolm looked back at the rutting couple. Ah, at last it was happening, the Navy guy was beginning to shudder, at first she must have thought he was just getting really busy and energetic in his fucking, but, when he collapsed, his limbs moving back and forth convulsively like an insect, she caught on, and, when he turned blue, she really got it then.
It was time. Malcolm went out on stage and the crowd's fever moved up another notch. They were howling, transfixed, and all Malcolm had to do was merely add his pretty screaming clarinet to the mix and then the crowd turned into one interconnected body, nothing but writhing cells and a strange high-pitched keen.
Then, in a wild burst of sensation, all three of the men on stage began to dance, up, back, side, side, and their materialized unity enchanted the crowd even more.
Suddenly everyone was silent.
Then Trip broke the silence. "Look at my trumpet."
A lone woman gave a wild shriek.
"Look, it's talking. My trumpet's talking."
Then Travis spoke. "What's it saying, Trip?"
"It's saying," and Trip took a deep breath, "it's saying, step left, step right, step up, step back," and they all moved and the crowd moved with them as it screamed with one banshee-like voice.
Then Trip yelled, "rave rave rave," and the music finally stopped.
"Oh, man, we gotta get us some Jesus," Trip said and turned to Travis. "We alls need to repent this shit. Ain't that right?"
"Thass right Brother Tucker."
"Thass right Brother Mofo," Trip said to him. Then he turned to the audience and bent towards them. "Brother Mack Daddy he all the same way." And the crowd screamed louder as Malcolm nodded at them.
"Yall drink and play gospel on the jukebox so the 602 can stay open, but we taking a little break."
The crowd screamed one last time and then broke into little organic groups foaming here and there against the projecting bay of the wooden bar and the restroom doors so they could get what they could get.
And Travis and Trip and Malcolm all turned to see the vision of her, brushing the front of her skirt like a goddess at a picnic dusting ants from her cloud, and she looked at them, and they all knew they would be having a very good time very soon.
A klaxon rang. Ah, fifteen-hundred hours and regular as a star the captain came back on the bridge.
"Excellent economy of fuel, Malcolm. You're a first-rate pilot."
"Thank you, sir."
"You may resume your position."
And Malcolm sat back down at his viewscreen.
"She's an easy ship to steer, isn't she?" Captain Archer looked very proud.
"Yes, sir. She does your father credit."
And Captain Archer gave him a sweet little smile.
Malcolm looked away as he put the hissing walkie-talkie to his ear. ". . . still can't find him," a voice crackled. "It's been fourteen hours. We've about given up hope."
"Right," Malcolm said.
Then he packed up his gear and went on.
Night travel in a rocky jungle wasn't easy. Thank goodness for the skills that came with earning his merit badges.
The drizzle continued, but that was a good thing: the rain would disguise his sound, his smell.
From what, Malcolm didn't know.
A sudden burst of lightning, and he saw it.
The opening to a cave.
Two days ago, when all the campers were fresh, it might have seemed an alluring place to pitch a tent.
Panting, intermittently lit by the lightning, Malcolm scrambled cross the steeply pitched cliff and climbed inside the mouth of the cave.
Was that the flicker of a campfire?
And something, something indefinable, told him not to rush in.
Something told him that something was going on.
Again, good that the rain deadened his footsteps.
Then he heard a voice; it was harsh and stiff, the voice of an angry man.
He edged along the wall of the cave, the campfire light growing brighter with each step.
Suddenly the voice was right beside him, and only instinct kept Malcolm from falling into the light where he could be seen.
Then he realized something. He knew that voice.
It was Mr. Kildeer.
Mr. Kildeer, the scoutmaster, Mr. Kildeer of the sinister bald head, the sullen pursed lips, the disturbing winking gaze.
And now Malcolm heard what Mr. Kildeer was saying, and it shook him to his very core.
"What are your duties? What are your duties? Goddamn bastard, what are your duties?" And chillingly Malcolm heard another sound punctuating the word *duties*. A sound like something slapping something else, and slapping hard, and an agonized yet eager whimper followed each slapping sound.
"Your duties, Jonny, your duties. What are your duties?"
Jonny? Could it be? Was this where he had been while they all hunted him? Held captive by Mr. Kildeer?
Malcolm moved his head around the stonecropping.
And what he saw was beyond terror.
It was Jonny, gagged and lying on his stomach, with his hands bound behind him and his khaki shorts pulled down below the curve of his buttocks. And Mr. Kildeer was now staring at the figure below, breathing heavily, as if in the grip of some powerful emotion. Then suddenly Mr. Kildeer started moving again, and Malcolm saw what was going on.
Mr. Kildeer had a wide leather strap and, as he said, "What are your duties, I don't hear you, Jonny, what are your duties?" he brought the strap down on Jonny's quivering buttocks.
Jonny. Malcolm closed his eyes. He'd found Jonny all right. Jonny who'd been missing for so many hours, yes, he'd found him, but he wasn't sure he'd be bringing him back to base camp.
Malcolm opened his eyes. What was . . . then it burst upon him with a sickening gasp: Mr. Kildeer was sexually aroused by beating Jonny, by bringing his strap down against the full hard curve of Jonny's beautiful young buttocks.
Jonny. Jonny Archer had always been the most attractive of Malcolm's fellow Eagle scouts, Jonny with his long dark blonde hair, his generous features, his deepset gray-green eyes, his beautiful smile, the sweet burr of his voice. And, now that they were all eighteen, just poised on the rosy shore of manhood, one sensed Jonny would grow up into a handsome man, all those slightly equine features filling out and the tall, broad-shouldered, lean-hipped promise of his body ripening into maybe the most handsome of them all.
Malcolm leaned forward again. Jonny naked. He had never imagined he would . . .
And that was the moment Mr. Kildeer turned around. "What the bloody fuck are you doing here, Malcolm?" and, before Malcolm knew it, Mr. Kildeer was beside him.
"What is this?" Malcolm whispered.
"Just talking to Jonny about his duties. Speaking of which, I've lately had occasion to wonder about *your* duties, Malcolm." And now Malcolm noticed Mr. Kildeer was slapping the strap against his palm.
Malcolm lowered his head. He could run away, he was probably much faster than Mr. Kildeer, but that would mean leaving Jonny alone with Mr. Kildeer. "Set Jonny free," he whispered to Mr. Kildeer.
"It's just a little game we play. A man's game. When you're a little . . . bigger . . . you can play it with us."
"Let me ask Jonny if that's true."
"No, Malcolm, that's not one of his duties. And it's not one of your duties either."
"I'll tell, I will. When I get back to base camp."
One of Mr. Kildeer's eyes was set into a permanent squint and you never knew where it was looking, but now even the good eye was shut down to no more than a pinprick. "Oh, no, you won't, you bedwetting little pyromaniac."
Malcolm suddenly turned around and started running towards the entrance to the cave.
Behind him, he could hear Mr. Kildeer stumbling among the rocks and panting.
"I'll get you, boy!" he bellowed.
Malcolm sped up and then he remembered his merit badge in infantry. He dropped and grabbed his knees, the momentum keeping him rolling until he flattened himself against the wall of the cave. Just as he figured, Mr. Kildeer didn't see him, merely kept running and bellowing.
And then Malcolm heard it.
A loathsome hideous scream followed by a distant splash.
He counted to ten and then crawled to the edge of the cave opening. Mr. Kildeer was nowhere to be seen. There was only the flat face of the cliff and the river raging below.
Well. That would appear to be that.
He turned back; now to free Jonny.
But Jonny had almost as many merit badges as Malcolm himself, so he had already untied his ropes and pulled his shorts up. Now he was sitting there rubbing his wrists, his innocent legs relaxed, open. "Is he gone?" he said, looking up at Malcolm.
"Yes, but there'll be hell to pay with the police."
"The police? What happened?"
Malcolm closed his eyes. "I . . . Kildeer was trying to overpower me. I hid from him, and he lost his footing and fell off the cliff."
"Shouldn't we help him out?"
"It's unreachable. I heard the splash of the river as he fell in."
"Maybe he swam to safety."
Their eyes met in the flickering firelight.
"Jonny, what did Mr. Kildeer mean when he said it was a game?"
Jonny ducked his head. "Malcolm, I just can't say."
"Was it a . . . sex thing?"
Jonny blushed. Then he nodded. "At first he just made me give him a blow job."
Jonny looked at him. "I liked it. He always blew me afterwards," he said quietly. "Then it got more serious. He made me take it like a woman. Up the butt."
"Up the butt?" Malcolm whispered.
"And I liked that too." He was at least a head taller than Mr. Kildeer, than Malcolm himself, but a certain diffidence marked his eye.
And Malcolm knew what Mr. Kildeer saw in him.
Then Jonny unzipped his shorts and rolled them to the top of his thighs.
Malcolm glanced away and then back. He could hardly believe what he was seeing: Jonny was manly all over, broad shoulders, strong pectorals and biceps, all flowing into narrow hips, and splendidly, blindingly Jonny was erect, with a big-headed man-sized cock, and then Jonny took his long delicately-boned hands and slid his shorts off.
Now he was standing there, aroused and, except for his socks and hiker books, completely naked.
Malcolm had never been with a naked man before, or with anybody naked, and he had never hoped to see anything so perfect, but here it was now, available, waiting.
And Jonny was far more beautiful than Malcolm could have ever hoped.
"How do we begin, Jonny?" he whispered.
"Kiss me. Mr. Kildeer never kissed me."
And Malcolm walked over, not feeling anything but silver air beneath his floating feet, and he leaned his head back and Jonny bent his head over and their tongues and lips intertwined - Jonny tasted like sweet fire and Malcolm could feel Jonny's unconscious hands taking off his shirt, his scouting shorts, and then touching him there, almost pulling him into a quick ecstasy.
"Not so quick, give me a . . ." Malcolm wanted to say something but he didn't know what.
"Malcolm, I like it. Like a girl. Like a dog."
Malcolm could barely hear these intoxicating words; he only watched as Jonny spread his bedroll on the cave floor and then got on his hands and knees.
Jonny Archer on his hands and knees begging for it.
"Lube?" Malcolm gasped.
"In the pack," Jonny said. He sounded sleepy, happy.
Malcolm found the lube and daubed it on himself, never taking his eyes off Jonny's displayed body, the careful twin curves of his ass.
Then he moved over to Jonny and began to rub the lube up and down Jonny's creased body.
"Now, please, oh, please," Jonny said.
And just for a moment Malcolm paused with his good-sized cock against Jonny's ass and then he pushed forward a little and Jonny groaned, a good groan, a welcome groan, and Malcolm moved quickly back and forth in small increments, jabbing himself into Jonny's most intimate self, and with each jab he moved into Jonny more and then suddenly he found himself all the way inside Jonny, and Jonny was whispering curses and sighs and Malcolm could feel himself inside Jonny's heat.
And now he slowly pulled himself out and pushed it back in and back and again out, each time dragging it in a way that had Jonny gritting his teeth, his back flushed and damp with sweat, his hips moving almost independently of any conscious desire.
And Malcolm moved his hands to Jonny's hard hips and then under them, to the very base of Jonny's body and he felt Jonny's big hard-on, male, warm, wet, and he gripped it as he would want himself gripped and he was moving in and out of Jonny's delectable big ass, and it was becoming more exciting to him as he kept moving and Jonny kept murmuring words like cocks and asses and fucking, oh, god fucking. And then there was a grinding sound in Jonny's throat and Malcolm closed his eyes and thought again of Jonny showing himself off, naked and tan except for the pale skin where his shorts had been, but now wearing nothing but boots and socks, and he began to come, falling against Jonny, and he could feel Jonny's cock spurting against his hand, ready, wet, warm.
"Permission to go to my quarters, sir."
Archer looked up from T'Pol's star charts - his grave handsome face not quite seeing Malcolm. "Permission granted."
Some days were just more . . . than others.
Malcolm locked the doors to his quarters. That tiny little porthole - nobody could see in, but he still pulled its hard plastic cover down. After all, this was no spectator sport. Then he popped the top snap on his suit and began to unzip his . . .
Well, how should it be done this time?
Jonny and Malcolm in the cave.
Travis forcing his huge self inside . . .
T'Pol's lips locked around his erect . . .
He shut his eyes and gently released himself into the air. Eyes closed. Not looking. Too shameful, but not to think of that. Nothing bad, nothing bad. Happy endings. He must think happy endings.
Trip . . . fucking T'Pol, Malcolm saving her, and then . . .
What was it those Andorians had said - that Andorian that had wanted her. Fucking T'Pol with his annelidian member, uncoiling it again and again against her, and Malcolm saving her . . .
I'll enjoy having you.
My hero, she would breathe in that dark green way. And open her slender legs and he would find himself riding her emerald ridge and scenting her jade frgrance and she would have a veridian cry and a verdant grip on his buttocks and he would be all the way in her slick warmth and he moved his hand, no longer really his hand but just sensation to sensation against her or him, whichever it was, and then he saw her in a dress and she had pulled it up to her waist and her legs were open and he was inside her, the dress billowing around them like a white cloud, and his own breath startled him because it was stuttering as every part of him contracted with the sensations of his body.
After a moment, he opened his eyes.
Heavens. That had been good. That had been so good. That was the best yet. He was still breathing hard. That was good.
And now he could shower quickly and go off to supper.
A table for eight. Malcolm's worst nightmare; he wouldn't have even joined them - he would have gone back to his quarters and eaten some bar of something like an animal in its den, but sitting graciously, offering for the table for eight her fabulous beauty and graceful hands, was T'Pol. So, when Dr. Phlox smiled and said "join us", he sat down.
Right between Travis and Dr. Phlox, and just a seat away from T'Pol.
She was silent, her eyes wide.
Because the server was bringing meat, meat all around.
And now she sipped her water. Not that Malcolm was watching her obsessively, but he could see her motions in his peripheral vision, the peripheral vision he had trained for just such purposes, well, for armory uses as well. Odd perception that and not necessarily creepy.
Dr. Phlox was chewing with his mouth open.
Then he swallowed. "A true interplanetary brotherhood is being born here, isn't it?" he said in his plummy tones. "A shared meal, a shared language."
For god's sake, just give me food.
"I recall -- Ensign Sato, this will interest you -- my first time at speaking English. `Doing duty of medicating man. Finding food through friends' kindness.' I thought one articulated the `gh' in everything. Through. Night. `Gh' is a popular syllable - I see you smile, Ensign Sato -- on Denobula so I felt quite at home. Gh. Gh. Gh." Phlox shook his head.
T'Pol was sitting and listening with great care, her silverware poised artfully in her hands. "Although it is illogical to call it English, the language can be graceful. Particularly when used by the English." Had she glanced at Malcolm when she said that? Possibly. Malcolm couldn't quite tell. "It has a certain useful logic. `Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.'"
Malcolm felt something being born inside him. No doubt that was aimed at him.
Or was it?
Ensign Rostov was sitting beside her, and now he groaned. "Oh, God, reminds me of Chaucer. Hee was a verray parfit gentil knight." He pronounced the `gh' distinctly and they all laughed.
"Wow, sounds like you guys should brush up on your Grimm's laws." Hoshi said dourly. While they had laughed, she had been distinctly unamused. "At one time, the gh was pronounced and then it became `h' which is allied with the `I' sound. Say them," she commanded. No one responded.
"I don't hear you." A born teacher. And all that that implied.
Dr. Phlox said `huh' and then `uh' very loudly; then he nodded encouragingly. "Now say `kuh'. Feel how the sounds all originate in the same place? Many years ago, they used to be the same sound. The English language has a physical logic, too," she finished proudly.
Ensign Cutler was sitting beside Hoshi. "That's so neat," she said in her sleepy way. "English was my favorite subject in school." Ah, she and Hoshi the nursemaids of education aboard the Enterprise. "Jane Austen. Mary Shelley. `It was a dark and stormy night.'" A male voice snickered. "Hey, Travis, you know how I love ghost stories!" And Travis nodded merrily.
"Don't remind me." Now Novakovich was speaking. "I prefer a little more aesthetics in life. The later 19th century. The Yellow Book, all that. `To burn with a hard gem-like flame, that is the something something something." Then he smiled too.
Oh, right. Novakovich had been the unfortunate chap with the twigs all coming out of him. Transporter accident. No wonder he didn't care for nature all that much; too close to home.
"I like that period as well," Travis offered shyly. "We were able to download all sorts of books on our freighter. Dickens was my favorite. `It was the best of times,'" Then he dimpled deeply.
Oh, they were all the way around the table and now everyone was looking at him expectantly. "Actually, I like it all really."
How stupid could he be! How illogical! It was as if one were saying, oh, I like to eat all the cow, not just steaks but the ears and the fur and all the membrane-y unmentionables. And no doubt she looked upon him that way, as she looked upon all humans. Great gross eating machines, putting all sorts of things in their mouths and letting nonsense come out. He looked down at his plate. What was she doing? He gave a lightning glance from the corner of his eyes.
She appeared to be calmly spearing a carrot and bearing it to her mouth.
Perhaps she would see him as a bit of produce, the kind of produce that could be redeemed and used by the Vulcans. That one day on the ship, she would say to him, Lieutenant Reed, you really are a different kind of human. I see things in you, beautiful things. And she would agree to come with him to his quarters. His quarters fastidiously, impossibly neat, everything put away except for one beautiful piece of driftwood he'd found by the Indian ocean while ambling on its littered beach with Aunt Shelly.
So T'Pol would pick up the driftwood and look at him searchingly with those huge eyes.
And he would walk over and explain how driftwood worked. "Do you have rivers and oceans and lakes on your planet?" and she would say, no, we are not a water-based lifeform, and he could gather her into his arms and they would rock together, warm and warm and warmer, in contrast with the giant frozen temperatures of outer space, and he would move his lips to hers - those impossibly full lips of hers and they would kiss, and then he'd smile into her . . .
The door to the captain's quarters opened and Trip walked out, no doubt having had a very excellent exclusive supper with the captain.
"Yippppeeee!" he yelled. "Let's us go to the movies!"
Malcolm did enjoy the crew' nights at the cinema. Last night had been `Classics' night; the night before had been `Romance', but tonight was just . . . fun.
"Sessia: Night of the Killer Androids II!" read the credits.
"Oh god," someone groaned. Was it Trip?
And everyone laughed.
Someone handed Malcolm a glass bowl of popcorn.
Oh, it seemed as if the mad scientist who created the Killer Androids had been killed by one of them. Well, that was appropriate.
"Science can go too far," someone in a lab coat intoned.
And someone else in a jumpsuit pointed out the Killer Androids were teaming up with shape-shifters from another planet.
Malcolm sat there quietly pleased; he loved monster movies. And always had, actually. Never met a introvert who didn't love monster movies. Why was I not made of . . .
Now the whole Enterprise audience was talking back to the movie. He had to say he quite enjoyed that, even if the movie was . . . in its way . . . rather touching.
The heroine was tall and pretty with big eyes. Not completely unlike someone Malcolm knew quite well.
Malcolm peered over at her.
Of course, T'Pol was expressionless, but Malcolm wondered what she was thinking. Did they have fictional movies on Vulcan? What if she thought these movies were all documentaries? No doubt she would be unsurprised that the voluble, nearly hysterical humans would permit the camera to follow them everywhere.
Someone threw popcorn at the screen.
How humans must mystify her!
Uhoh, the androids had captured the heroine.
More laughter as she pulled in an artificial way against the ropes.
A small android, somehow curiously sad, came forward; ah, he had been chosen to guard her.
The heroine spoke to the small android in a kindly way.
And, as almost always happened, tears suddenly came to Malcolm's eyes.
The tall glamorous heroine was befriending the lonely little android.
Only in the movies.
Only in the movies.
And there Malcolm was, chained and growling to that wooden structure in the middle of the street, and only the beautiful dark gypsy with the deep brown gaze, with the subtly pointed ears, came to him with sympathy.
And he looked up at her and she looked down at him and each recognized their utter alien-ness in the other.
She touched his lips with her lemon-scented hand and he almost swooned as he leaned into her touch.
And the laughing ruffians (oh, laughing even as they were laughing now at the pitiful android as he entertained his undersized fantasies about the beautiful heroine) freed him and he scampered to his cathedral.
Then the beautiful gypsy was waltzed away down the street with the rest of the jeering crowd.
And he had leaned against the nearest gargoyle: Why was I not made of stone like thee?
"Loser," a man's voice yelled at the screen.
Because the pitiful little android was freeing the beautiful heroine and, of course, when he freed her, she socked him into the middle of next week.
Malcolm slumped down in his seat. Well.
The lights came up and everyone filed out.
"Loved the total end of that film. The heroine stomping the bejeez out of that android." Everyone laughed at Trip's hyperbole. "Hey, Malcolm, did it look familiar? Remember that Klingon space ship? Like maybe when you got beat up by that woman." Trip looked around at the rest of the crowd and grinned.
Then T'Pol and Hoshi spoke at once.
"He was brave," Hoshi's indignant girl's voice said, while T'Pol's lower, slower-paced voice echoed, "Lieutenant Reed was brave."
Malcolm lifted his chin.
Trip had the grace to look down. "My bad," he said. It sounded like "mah bayud."
Hoshi recovered nicely. "I'd like to see the great Commander Tucker get hit from behind by a Klingon female and still have something to say about it."
"I know, I know," Trip said. Boyish, contrite.
"Klingons don't even have a word for `woman'," she continued and made an irate little moue.
There was a slight silence; then Malcolm spoke. "Possibly we could schedule a rematch. I might enjoy that." Smooth, even in the superior way he said `schedule'.
"God, I feel stupid. Cap'n Archer wouldn't even deal with the Klingon woman unless she was in restraints."
"I'm not surprised," Malcolm said calmly. "The back of my neck remembers her well."
"Accept my apologies?"
Trip looked boyish. Abashed. "Mebbe we all better all turn in."
And the gang broke up.
As Malcolm walked to his quarters, he found himself behind the lovely swaling hips of T'Pol, and Hoshi was right beside him.
"I thought our experience on the Klingon ship was great!" Hoshi said emphatically; she always sounded as if she might be chewing gum.
"It was a . . ." T'Pol began and then stopped.
Suddenly Malcolm realized what she wanted to say.
"I felt we learnt to work together with efficiency," he said. There. That sounded Vulcan.
T'Pol lifted her small firm chin. "I agree."
They walked past a window; outside the darkness of space was suddenly broken up.
"Oh, look," Hoshi said.
Always interrupting. What a pest.
"A comet," T'Pol said placidly.
"It makes it like daylight!" Hoshi said; he could hear the smile in her voice.
They stood watching it slowly vroom by.
Then Hoshi sighed. "What is it Dr. Phlox always says?"
"So to bed," T'Pol said. Not a shred of irony.
And they walked on down the corridor.
T'Pol's room was first. She opened the door and said `good night' without looking at them. Malcolm gave her room a lightning glance. The corner of a well-tended bed.
Then the door closed and he was alone with Hoshi.
They walked silently, even grimly, towards her quarters.
"Well," she said then, at the exact second Malcolm said, "I".
They looked at each other.
Could she be shy too?
And a vision of a . . . a farm. A farm. With a grape arbor. A neat stone little house.
Two dark-haired children laughing out front.
Hoshi at the door.
In an apron.
Oh, for god's sake.
He gave her a pinched little smile. "Good night, Ensign."
"Good night, Lieutenant," she said in her funny American voice.
Malcolm pulled the covers up to under his chin. He liked going to bed, he liked the fact that he was going on his own little dream wagon; he turned over, happy in the womb, his body a figure eight, like the symbol of eternity. He had opened the porthole again and the stars sped merrily by.
She said he was brave. She said he was very brave.
Generally speaking, Malcolm liked to root around any compliments he received to see what insults were hiding on their underside. But she was a Vulcan, and Vulcans didn't lie, or least didn't practice recognizable irony.
She said he was brave.
A lot of Malcolm's dreams ended up in wet ashes, but Malcolm always tried to persevere. What was it Nietzsche had said? In danger there was only going forward?
Maybe he could pop some Nietzsche on T'Pol.
She said he was brave.
And, actually, he had been a rugged little devil on the Klingon ship, hadn't he? They all had. They had all only gone forward. Even the gum-chewing Hoshi.
Forward as on . . . a . . . boat. And a boat, a bright white sailboat, cruised across his consciousness. Against a purple and orange sky, and he and T'Pol were on the boat and she was wearing a white . . . little swimsuit and her beautifully-boned olive-skinned feet were bare and he had on his swimtrunks, and she could see the sufficient meat of his tough little body and as they rocked gently against the darkening horizon she rested that beautiful little head on his chest and he brought her in and his hands were on the ropes and the ship moved slowly on the ocean and he smelled her sharp scent and his eyes were growing heavy and he buried his lips in her hair and together he seemed to go with her towards morning.