The Last Full Monty

By E.M. Theis

Rating: PG-13

Genres: humour

Keywords: sickbay

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Chapter 6

Disclaimer: The characters, plot, and places of Star Trek: Enterprise are the property of CBS and Paramount. No profit was made from this story, and no infringement was intended. This work was produced solely for entertainment.

Rating: PG-13 (mild language, sexual content)

Genre: Humor

Mission Date: February 16, 2152

Summary: An accident in Engineering seals the main engine room from the rest of the ship, cutting it off from life support even though Malcolm, Trip, and Archer are still inside. There, they must wait for rescue and attempt to survive the heat and each other’s company while the rest of the crew attempts to cut them free.

 


“Just kill me.”

That was all Trip could think to say. He didn’t even direct the words at anyone near him. In fact, he was far too embarrassed to even think about looking at anyone near him; he most assuredly wasn’t going to have a conversation with anyone. This was more of a plea for mercy, three words that symbolized how willing he was to prostrate himself before a higher power as long as said higher power put him out of his misery.

“Come on, Chief. It’s not that bad.”

Not that bad? Not that bad? He almost felt like crying. He was absolutely naked, with naught but his boots on his feet and a blanket wrapped around him, being half led, half dragged to sickbay. Naked. Being led to sickbay by his second-in-command. His second-in-command, who was very much a lady, who was very much his friend, who he was pretty certain he’d never be able to look in the eye again. Not to mention that T’Pol…

Oh, God, he was going to cry.

“Chief,” Lieutenant Hess tried again. She’d noted his misery. This could not get any worse. “It’s not as though… well, as though we didn’t appreciate the show. You’ve got absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.”

He was wrong. That was worse.

“Trip,” she tried. Good Lord, she was attempting to appeal to him as a friend. Hess didn’t often call him “Trip” – not since she’d signed on board Enterprise beneath him. This was just no good. He didn’t want to go to sickbay with a retinue of people behind him. He wanted to hide. Or he needed to seriously consider the virtues of starting to drink. Heavily. And he didn’t care that he was dehydrated, and alcohol wouldn’t help him at all in that regard. In fact, his earlier statement about summed everything up perfectly. Someone ought to kill him. Alcohol poisoning with a chaser of extreme dehydration seemed like a perfectly good way to go.

He stumbled, and Hess’ hand tightened around his arm. He couldn’t seem to catch his damned breath either. He’d had to fight tooth and nail to stop them from getting a damned gurney to carry him to sickbay. And now that he was out of the engine room, he was so incredibly cold that he almost missed his beautiful warp reactor and its hundreds of degrees of heat. He’d managed to retain some shred of dignity while Phlox had wiped the sweat from his body and wrapped him in the thermal blanket. Now, he realized that he’d just been in shock.

“Take it easy, Trip. You don’t have to run.”

That was Captain Archer. Tucker momentarily wanted to punch him in the face. He could think of plenty of reasons to run – the first of which meant that he would be able to abandon Archer and Reed in a matter of moments. He had his boots, and – dammit – that meant he could run on the metal deck plating without fear of injuring his feet, which meant that he could run all the hell he wanted and would be able to lose the two banes of his very existence – who, unfortunately, still happened to be his two best friends – without too much effort. He was pretty sure that Phlox would sic someone on him, though, who would probably tackle him to the corridor’s floor, which would no doubt result in further injury to his ribs, which would no doubt disqualify him for shore leave, which meant he would spend his two days on the ship, weeping as he repaired all the damage Travis had done.

Yeah, maybe running wasn’t a good idea. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t want to punch his friend for reprimanding him. There was also the small fact that Archer was his commanding officer. Violence against a captain was never a good thing.

Luckily, the doors to sickbay came into view. It was a safe haven. Phlox could make Hess leave. And make Crewman Kelly leave. And make T’Pol leave. He’d never seen such a beautiful utopia in his life – the place he could go to have his final moments before the story spread throughout the ship, and he became forever known as “Tripod” or “the Real Captain”… or… “The Lunchbox”. Because he sure as hell knew exactly where Hess and Kelly and even T’Pol – goddammit – had been looking! And they hadn’t stared like that at Malcolm or at the Captain!

Sickbay. His haven. He had to get there.

Hess pressed the button to open the doors, and he practically bounded inside.

Only to find himself face to face with Hoshi.

He almost screamed. His shock very nearly caused him to drop the blanket altogether. He felt his face grow incredibly red, and he tried to get that incredibly tiny blanket to cover every last inch of him. It didn’t work. He was too big, dammit! And that thought made him redden even further.

Someone just had to kill him. There was no way he could redeem himself after this. There was no way he could live on a ship where every woman would know his exact dimensions in approximately one hour. He knew how fast gossip traveled on this ship. He didn’t need another reason to have people talking about him.

The devilish side of his conscience had a moment’s thought that this could easily become the best day in his life. The intelligent side of him realized that no amount of manly pride at his victory over Captain Archer and Lieutenant Reed could elevate this day above its current designation in his mind. He was an engineer, not a male gigolo! He didn’t need to have everyone on the ship know about his… his… unmentionables! Damn you, Malcolm, he seethed inwardly.

Outwardly, his body must not have realized that he was supposed to be angry. Or anything more responsive than “catatonic”.

“Commander?” He heard Hoshi say. She sounded confused. Or lusty. His brain didn’t seem to be functioning enough to comprehend anything that wasn’t paranoid. “Are you okay?”

As was the case when most people asked him a stupid question, he had only enough grace to stand there, mute. At least he wasn’t stammering an answer. That probably would have been worse.

“Sir?” And that was Travis. Had the whole damn ship decided to start a social club in sickbay? His gaze flitted over to where the Ensign was sitting on a biobed. Mayweather was half-dressed, the bright blue of his undershirt contrasting brilliantly with his dark skin. Trip had a moment of blessing for the younger man, who obviously spent many hours lifting weights in the gym. Could this be his savior, whose fine physique would save him from further scrutiny from the females in this room? He decided quite plainly that he had nothing on Travis. And he thanked God that the Ensign had apparently injured himself when he’d broken the warp engine (and, from the look of Travis’ bandaged hands, helm control as well). Sweet revenge was his!

Only, his body still seemed to have no concept of these complex thought processes. His feet refused to move. All he seemed able to do was softly gasp for each breath of air. Then someone had his shoulders in their hands, and he recognized the hands that were decidedly not the property of Lieutenant Hess. No, he knew those thin, steely digits, and he might have been surprised had his body and mind been in any way in sync. Rather, he just wondered why it was that Phlox, who didn’t like to be touched, was pushing him toward a biobed.

“Sit down, Commander,” the Denobulan ordered. “Lieutenant, Captain.”

Trip did as he was told. Sitting on the biobed, he thought maybe he could hide himself better. So he sat, determined that he was going to stare at the floor regardless of who might attempt conversation, and just waited for death as patiently as he could.

The best laid plans of mice and men… That was the first thing that came to his mind when Phlox suddenly returned, medical scanner in hand. The doctor attempted to pull the blanket away from him, and his fingers tightened around the edges, which, of course, made Phlox tug harder.

“Mine,” he hissed. Finally, he sounded angry. And he was angry! Anger was the best defense against this sort of thing.

Phlox sighed softly and wrenched the blanket away from his upper body. Trip meant to growl at the weakness in his fingers, but the noise sounded more like a pitiful mew. He couldn’t help a shiver as his chest and shoulders were bared to the cool sickbay air, but at least Phlox didn’t seem to want to completely expose him again. The blanket remained in his lap, and he endured a medical scan.

“Take a breath, as deep as you can, Commander,” Phlox ordered.

Trip obeyed, breathing in slowly and deeply. He didn’t manage to take in a lot of air before it just hurt too damn much, and he exhaled sharply, coughing. He closed his eyes and felt a hand supporting him as he coughed. Then he felt the pressure of a hypospray against his neck, and the hurt in his chest didn’t seem quite as sharp. Then someone was pressing something cool into one of his hands, and he cracked his eyes open to look at it.

He didn’t need water. He needed whiskey. Some wretched corn whiskey that would taste like paint thinner and be just about as toxic. Or maybe some Southern Comfort. With a cherry. Or three cherries. He liked cherries. And very little ice. In fact, maybe no ice. Who needed ice?

“Drink it.”

He obeyed, as there was really no choice. From Phlox’s tone, he could assume that the next thing the Denobulan would do would be to bowl him over and poor the water down his throat. So he took a drink of the water and felt irritated that the liquid did nearly nothing to relieve the dryness of his throat. Once he started drinking, of course, he wanted to down the entire glass in one fell swoop, but Phlox stopped him.

“But don’t make yourself sick,” the doctor added. “You have a slight fever. I want to lay you down, if your injury doesn’t hinder your breathing. Let’s see if we can’t cool you down a bit, hmm?”

He felt cold enough, but he let Phlox take his water and push him down onto the bed. Despite the blanket that was still tangled across his lap, he felt extremely exposed, but Phlox didn’t allow him the luxury of curling into a fetal position to die. Instead, the doctor simply pulled off his boots, elevated his feet slightly by settling them onto a pillow, and turned away.

Trip watched him silently, trying to ignore the uneasy ache in his chest as he breathed. He was extremely conscious of the fact that that thermal blanket was barely covering his hips and thighs, but he didn’t dare move to attempt to correct it for fear of accidentally losing what cover he had while trying to untangle it. And he was also extremely conscious of the fact that both T’Pol and Hess were still standing a few feet away, and they were staring at him.

“Lieutenant,” Phlox declared. Trip watched him pull a cart over to the bed. “You just became a nurse. Rehydrate him and cool him down a little bit while I attend to Captain Archer and Lieutenant Reed.”

To Trip’s horror, Hess grinned broadly. “Sounds like fun,” she said.

“Sounds like a way to further humiliate the Chief,” was what Trip heard. He groaned and covered his face with his hands. His cheeks and forehead did feel warm, though. He did have a fever. Son of a bitch.

“Don’t worry, Commander,” Phlox added cheekily. “I’m certain we’ll have you completely healthy and energetic in time for your shore leave on Risa.”

Trip almost said something incredibly mean. At the moment, he didn’t want to go to Risa. He couldn’t care less about Risa.

For some reason, Hess giggled.

But Trip wasn’t going to uncover his eyes and look in order to understand why. He heard Phlox move away, and he almost risked looking. But then he remembered that T’Pol was still near him made him want to just… well… die. He didn’t understand why he should be so embarrassed about that, but he was. His heart thundered at the mere thought that she was standing near him. He probably smelled terrible; he’d been drenched in sweat for hours. How could she even stand to be near him?

“Well,” Hess declared softly, gently. Her voice was soothing, that tone she used when she knew he was cranky and needed some tender care instead of frustration. She was much closer now than she had been when she’d giggled. “At least now I know why Ruby always called you her ‘master and commander’.”

He didn’t know what to say. There wasn’t anything to say. Not only was Hess teasing him in these, his final, pitiful moments, she was also revealing that she and Ruby had talked about him. Was nothing sacred? What else had Ruby said about him? He thought of everything he’d done with sweet, sweet Ruby, and he blushed furiously. Had he known that he’d be a hot topic of conversation, he never would have looked twice! And now he had to wonder what Natalie told her friends, and what Lisa had spread around their high school population.

He prayed – prayed – that Hess had just made that up because she was mean.

“‘Master and commander’?” T’Pol echoed. Her tone was seemingly indifferent, but he heard something beneath that cool Vulcan façade. She was amused. “Fascinating.”

Trip didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry. He wasn’t blind. He knew that T’Pol was just as much woman as the next. She just hid it better. Hell, all women hid it, but he knew. They liked to look. They’d never admit it, but they liked to look.

“I thought it was an exaggeration,” Hess continued flippantly, speaking as though he wasn’t even there, gossiping. “Now I’ll have to write her to congratulate her on such wit.”

He decided he had only two options to put an end to this. He could beg, or he could cry. The former seemed like the lesser of two evils, as he could hear Phlox talking to Captain Archer and Malcolm. And Travis was still here. And so was Hoshi. No, no crying.

Trip steeled himself with a quick breath and forced himself to relax. He let his hands fall away from his face, settling them across his chest. Then he opened his eyes and glanced to his right. Hess was hovering over him, as she poured him a new glass of water. T’Pol was standing next to the Lieutenant, coolly watching him. He swallowed.

“Ada,” he said hoarsely, softly. His voice was considerably more level than he felt. “Please do not say another word. Or I will make sure you spend the rest of this mission knee-deep in plasma residue as you scrub every last inch of the acceleration lines and exhaust ports with a toothbrush.”

The threat made her momentarily fumble, and she nearly spilled the glass of water.

“I would also like to add, for the record, that none of that was my idea. I was quite content to die from heat exhaustion in that damn engine room.”

Hess laughed, but T’Pol arched an eyebrow. “That would have been quite illogical,” the Vulcan declared. “And somewhat… disappointing.”

He sputtered. He started to say something, but his brain wouldn’t form coherent thought. Were Vulcans… were Vulcans supposed to be that forward? He felt his face redden again, and T’Pol’s other delicate eyebrow joined the first as she looked at him innocently. He had no choice. He sat up quickly, violently ripped the glass of water from Hess’ – laughing Hess’ – hand and drank to the exclusion of all else.

He was just dreaming. He had to be dreaming.

He turned his attention away from the two female crewmembers in front of him and tried to listen to Malcolm instead. Malcolm wasn’t going to tease him. Quite frankly, Malcolm should be jealous.

“Trust me, Lieutenant,” Phlox was saying, “the ointment may sting a little at first, but it should clear up the irritation in a few hours.”

“Sting a little?” Malcolm repeated, aghast by the tone of his voice. “Sting a little?”

“It’s quite safe,” the doctor argued. “You may find the sensation a little stimulating, but I’m certain any discomfort you might feel will be temporary. Would you like me to apply it for you?”

Trip almost started laughing. More sweet revenge! From the absolute silence in response and the choking noise he heard the Captain make, he could deduce exactly what had happened. That blue underwear did chafe. He grinned like a damned madmen, which really hindered his ability to drink his water. But he didn’t care. His heart was filled once more with the beautiful tang of unjustified glee. It was the little things that made life worth living.

“I…” Malcolm finally stammered. “I don’t think we should rule out euthanasia as a viable option. It may be best for all parties involved. To just kill me, I mean.”

“Lieutenant…”

Trip laughed. He couldn’t help it. And he didn’t care that each chuckle made his chest ache fiercely.

“Laugh it up, Mister Tucker,” Reed growled angrily. Trip couldn’t see where he was, but he could imagine that the Lieutenant had grabbed whatever ointment Phlox was offering and was stalking over to the restroom adjacent to sickbay. It was just too funny. And Trip needed something absolutely wretched to happen to someone else for once.

He heard the door to the facilities open and close and suddenly, he wasn’t the only one laughing. A glance proved that Travis was snickering into one of his bandaged hands and that Hoshi was trying to hide a smile. He still couldn’t see the Captain or Phlox, but he could hear Archer clearing his throat like he always did when he was trying not to laugh. It sounded as though Phlox was speaking to someone across one of the communications panels, but the doctor’s words were too low to make out. Hess, on the other hand, was quite loud in her attempts to hold back some giggles. And T’Pol was… T’Pol.

Still, he was quite glad that the attention had been taken away from him. It wasn’t easy to forget that he was laying on a narrow biobed with nothing at all covering him save for a tiny blanket that he would not risk adjusting. For the briefest of moments, it didn’t matter.

And then he thought about it, and it did matter. He was never going to live this down.

“The damage to the warp core was minimal,” T’Pol reported simply. Her neutral tone quashed the bout of giggling.

Trip looked up from his glass sneakily as Captain Archer stepped into view. The Captain was bare from the waist up and totally nonchalant about the entire ordeal. He was still trying not to smile despite T’Pol’s dismissal of the teasing, but he was doing a rather poor job of it. Rubbing at his lips would not erase the grin. Obviously, no one had ever told the Captain that.

Trip’s gaze moved a little lower, noting that the Captain’s lower body was covered by a blanket (similar to the one across Trip’s hips). He’d twisted the blanket as one might a towel in order to keep it secured about his waist. Somehow he managed to look dignified as he stood across from T’Pol.

“What is our status?” he asked seriously. “Is this going to affect getting to Risa on time?”

“No,” Hess declared dutifully. The playfulness had disappeared from her tone. Despite the ridiculousness of the Captain’s situation, she treated him with the utmost respect. Trip wondered why he didn’t deserve that level of gravity. “We should have the encryption on the safeties broken in another hour or so. Then we’ll get the cool air flowing through the engine room so we can start working on repairs. I’d say no more than thirty minutes to get the engine back on-line. We think we know where the short occurred, so it should just be a matter of repairing the wiring. What Ensign Mayweather did to the engine shouldn’t be a problem. A few minor systems were overloaded. I have some people working on that already.

“We can make up the time if we push the engines a little harder. We’ll still arrive on schedule, sir. No problem.”

“Good,” the Captain declared. “I think we all need a vacation, and another delay might have caused a mutiny.”

T’Pol clasped her hands behind her back. “Doubtful, Captain.”

Archer smiled wryly and changed the subject. It was apparent that T’Pol’s earlier humor had been a fluke. Or she hadn’t been teasing – only stating extremely embarrassing fact. “How are you feeling, Trip?” he asked. “Any better?”

Trip attempted to avoid the question by drinking some more, but he could feel his arm aching with the strain of holding him in a sitting position. What he really wanted to do was lie down and sleep.

“Trip,” the Captain warned.

He lowered the glass of water, feeling no more refreshed having gulped some more of the liquid. “No,” he murmured. “I need sleep.”

He was feeling hotter again and tired as well, so he let himself collapse back onto the biobed. The glass of water he settled against his side, and it was cool and comforting against his skin. Now that he was still and in sickbay, his head felt as though it was filled with wool, and he found himself clinging to emotions just so he could think straight. Any thought that wasn’t attached to a strong emotion just wasn’t coherent. But, of course, clinging to his shame only made him feel the embarrassment all the more acutely.

He closed his eyes and tried to keep his breathing even. Maybe he felt marginally better. He wasn’t sweating, at least. He tried to suppress a shiver and clenched his teeth. His body just couldn’t decide if he was hot or if he was cold.

He felt someone pull the blanket away from him, and he attempted briefly to lean up and make a grab for it. He made a noise that sounded somewhat similar to “no” but was more like a moan than a word. He didn’t have the strength to get up, though, and the fingers of his free hand refused to clutch the cloth tightly enough to retain his grip on it.

“Commander,” he heard Hoshi say breathlessly. He couldn’t tell if she was appalled or not, and he refused to acknowledge that he’d heard the statement as he felt the thief of his blanket settle the cover back over him. “You’re – ”

She was cut off by the sound of Archer coughing, and then she cleared her throat. Trip wanted to sink into the biobed and disappear. That was the only solution. He felt as though he was perpetually blushing, and he only hoped that his feverish skin would hide that fact. His mind filled in the rest of Hoshi’s statement with a hundred different words, and he didn’t dare attempt to narrow the list by the probability that the young officer would say such things. Women were incomprehensible. T’Pol had already proven that he didn’t have a chance in hell of anticipating them. Who knew what the hell Hoshi had meant to say?

“I think it might be best if we let the Commander get some rest,” Phlox declared, returning from his private communication with some other crewmember. Trip wanted to jump up and hug him. He just wanted someone to get these people the hell out of here! Couldn’t anyone see that he was dying?

He was reminded of Malcolm and suddenly laughed.

“All right,” Hess agreed lightly. “The Chief is off the deep end, and there’s a… mess… in engineering that someone needs to clean up.”

He suddenly remembered that he’d left all the contents of his pockets strewn haphazardly about the floor. He had left a mess in engineering, and his mother always taught him to put his toys away when he was done with them. He turned his head and opened his eyes. His lieutenant was already heading toward the door.

“Hess,” he called.

She waved her arm as she made to press the button that would open the doors to sickbay. “I’ll put it all on your desk, Chief,” she replied, anticipating his question before he’d even voiced it. She knew him too well.

Then she was out the door – and Trip had a moment to think about how long it would take her to start chatting. Hess talked too much for her own damn good, sometimes. He made a mental note to assign the scrubbing of the exhaust ports to her anyway. A little hard labor was good for her.

“Ensign Mayweather,” Phlox continued, chipper. Trip looked to where the doctor was pushing another ampoule into a hypospray. “You’re free to go. Come back in the morning for another treatment. Captain, I’d like you, Commander Tucker, and Lieutenant Reed to stay the night. Make yourself comfortable and do try to get some more fluids back into yourselves. Meanwhile, I need to make a brief house call. It appears Crewman Baird sprained his ankle in the gym.”

“Will do, Phlox,” the Captain declared. “You have something to wear around here, or should I have a crewman bring some clothes?”

“Pajamas in the back cabinet, Captain,” Phlox declared, pocketing his hypospray as he collected a portable medical kit. “I’ll return shortly. Ensigns.”

Trip watched Travis jump off his biobed and carefully nudge Hoshi into motion. Sato was staring at him. This was terrible. Absolutely terrible. Trip tried not to meet her gaze before she finally turned away and started toward the door.

“T’Pol?” Archer asked, drawing Trip’s attention from the retreating backs of the three crewmembers. T’Pol had remained where she was, and for a moment it seemed that she had no intention of moving at all.

Then she looked at Trip and simply declared, “Commander, I would suggest that you forgo wearing your ‘loud’ shirt down to Risa. You would have a much better chance of being noticed, if you were to wear nothing at all.”

He stared, flabbergasted. The deadpan delivery… surely, that must have been a joke! He opened his mouth to respond but could think of nothing to say. The Captain was rubbing at his lips again.

“It is only a suggestion,” T’Pol continued when he said nothing. “And it is only logical.”

Then she turned and started toward the door. Trip was stricken into silence. The Captain was very nearly laughing. Vulcans did not tell jokes. But, as far as Tucker knew, neither did they flirt nor did they mock. So what the hell was that?

The Captain obviously thought it was funny. And that was all there was to it. The door closed behind T’Pol.

“Oh, shut up,” Trip snarled crankily. He was tempted to throw his glass at Archer, who was actually laughing out loud now, but he stopped himself at the last moment. The glass remained in hand. The water that had been in it struck Archer in the face, and the Captain was abruptly silenced.

“Now, Trip,” Archer sputtered. “That was uncalled for.”

“Uncalled for?” Trip echoed. “You’re laughing at your best goddamned friend! I’m going to hear about this for the rest of my life! The entire ship’s gonna think I’m some… some…”

“Sex god?” Archer offered, wiping the water from his eyes.

Trip stared at him incredulously. “No!”

“Well, you did get pregnant,” the Captain said. He turned and started toward the cabinet that allegedly contain the pajamas.

“That wasn’t my fault!” he argued grumpily. “They were pebbles.”

Archer opened the cabinet and started sorting through the clothes. “Nevertheless, you’ve got a reputation now. I don’t see the harm in feeding it. People need to burn off nervous energy somehow on this ship. Think of it as providing the crew an outlet.”

“An outlet?” Trip repeated. This conversation was quickly heading to a forbidden place, and he didn’t like that at all. “Captain! I don’t want them to be… to want to… to think… to… you know.”

Archer laughed as he pulled some of the pajamas from the cabinet. He closed the door and walked back to Trip’s bed, dropping a set across Trip’s legs. “I’m kidding, Trip. They’re not going to think any less of you. They’ll probably think a great deal more of you. And, about those pebbles, I’ve always wondered, Trip… was it fun?”

Trip struggled to follow what his captain was saying but the only thing that made any sense to him was the question. He couldn’t help smiling like an idiot. “Of course, it was fun. Until the part about being the host for some alien rugrat. That wasn’t quite so much fun.”

Archer chuckled again. “A minor detail.”

Trip grimaced. “Minor.”

Tucker watched silently while the Captain took up his pair of pajamas and began to dress. The clothing was cotton and loose, and Trip sighed and looked away as Archer discarded the blanket and pulled the shirt over his head. He was tired. Maybe he should just sleep in the nude. The thought was both appalling and appealing. He hated pajamas.

“You going to get dressed?” Archer asked casually, depositing his blanket on one of the beds and taking up the final set of pajamas.

Trip frowned. “In a bit,” he said tiredly. “I ache all over. Think I’ll just lie here miserably for awhile.”

The Captain snorted as he headed toward the door to the bathroom. “You make it sound so wonderful. I’m sure we could lock ourselves in another stifling room, if you wanted.”

“No, thank you.”

Trip rolled carefully onto his side, tilting his head so he could see Archer. The Captain laughed softly before he pressed the buzzer on the bathroom door. “Malcolm,” he said loudly, “I have some clothes for you.”

The response was silence, and Trip couldn’t help but smile thinking about what torture Reed was suffering on the other side of that door.

“Malcolm, are you okay?” Archer continued. He seemed ready to break down the door.

Silence followed for a long moment and then Trip heard Malcolm’s muffled voice. “Are they loose?”

“What?” Archer asked.

“Baggy!” Reed replied sharply. “Are they baggy?”

Trip couldn’t help a chuckle as the Captain unfolded the pajama bottoms, looking them over. “I suppose,” he said. He nearly jumped when the door to the facilities opened abruptly. Malcolm’s arm snaked out and snatched the clothes away from Archer’s hands – nearly before the door had fully opened. The Captain stepped back as the door shut again.

Archer turned back to Trip, looking as though he wanted to either smile or frown. He started back toward the biobed with his blanket upon it, and they remained in silence for quite some time while the Captain paused to pour himself a glass of water. Then he sat down on the bed, and Trip watched in silence as he drank.

“I think,” Trip started, finally breaking the silence. “I think we did pretty good for our first year out here.”

Archer smiled. “It hasn’t been a year yet.”

Trip smiled in return. “True,” he said, “but we’re doing okay.”

The silence fell over them again, and Trip returned to quietly sitting as Archer drank the water. He could hear Malcolm rustling around in the bathroom. He breathed in deeply and listened for a long time, simply watching his friend.

Then the Captain laughed. Trip couldn’t help but smile at the giggle that erupted from Archer’s mouth. “What?” Trip asked.

A blush was slowly creeping over Archer’s features. It was the first time in a long time that Trip had seen the Captain flush in embarrassment. “I was just thinking, Trip,” he said, with another self-conscious chuckle, “about today.”

“Yeah?”

Archer scratched at the side of his nose, ducking his head. “The next time I decide to come down to engineering instead of heading to the movie… don’t let me. Seriously, you’re nothing but trouble.”

Trip frowned in mock irritation. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” the Captain replied lightly. “So remind me never to do that again. In fact, it might be better if we never mention this again. And the next time something like this ever happens?”

Trip nodded, waiting for Archer to speak. The Captain smiled.

“Just kill me.”

 

THE END

Comments:

Dinah
I, too, think that this situation would bother Malcolm more than Trip, but that's just a small quibble. This is really an outstanding story. We always knew Trip was the kind of guy who could turn heads. Now we know why. :D
evcake
ROTFL - Noooooo!!! - it can't be the end!!! more ROTFL
alba
Excellent.....loved reading it.
Asso
Yes. Poor (maybe) Trip.
krn
poor Trip - can't seem to catch a break.
Lady Rainbow
BWAHAHAHAHA! BRAVO! I love Hess. *Master and Commander* Snicker! And T'Pol! Thanks...I needed this! ;)
justTrip'n
Oh dear! I was laughing AND clapping all the way through this. This should go straight into Elessar's Classsics. Well it goes straight into justTrip'ns Classics: "Master and Commander!" LOL T'Pol was hilarious. And what was Hoshi going to say?! *grrrr* . . . . LOL

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