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By Samantha Quinn
A/N: There is some character POV switching in this chappy. I've tried to make it obvious. But the first part is Trip-pure Trip. The second part alternates between Trip and Malcolm. Maybe it should have been Archer, but we got his POV last chapter. So. . . I switched POV to be primarily Malcolm.
Trip stood in the shower as the cold water pounded down upon his back. Tilting his head, he allowed the icy liquid to drench his hair, flattening the golden locks and molding them to his scalp.
*Still too hot,* his head registered.
*Why aren't there any bathtubs on the Enterprise?* Trip wondered irritably, as he repositioned the water to hit the front of his body instead of the back. He wanted nothing so badly as the chance to completely submerge his body under *cold* water.
*But I'm stuck with these damn showers.* The showers were small, compressed, stuffy. The three clean, white walls felt as though they were drawing closer and closer with each minute he remained in the shower.
Trip cursed softly as the thought of T'Pol weaseled its way into his brain.
*Ever since I woke up from that nerve pinch, I've been thinking of her entirely too much.*
His body rebelled against his attempt at restraint and physically showed signs of his desire. Groaning, Trip double checked the controls. The hot water was completely disabled, but what should have been cold water was having no effect on Trip.
Giving up, Trip turned off the water. Stepping outside the shower, he began to towel off and dress himself. Still feeling uncomfortably warm, Trip decided on a pair of shorts and a loose Hawaiian shirt.
Realizing himself to be not only uncomfortably warm, but hungry as well, Trip headed towards the mess hall.
On the way there, Trip reflected on the exceedingly small size of the ship. The crew of the Enterprise crowded in on him in the same fashion that the shower walls had. It did not frighten Trip, but it did cause him a great deal of annoyance. He was greatly relieved to find himself alone in the Mess Hall.
Unwillingly, his body told him just what he thought of T'Pol.
Cursing, Trip took his plate of food and several glasses of water to a table, where he planned to sit down and eat in solitude. *Maybe after I've eaten, I can go back to my quarters and try to get some sleep. T'Pol said these symptoms should go away soon.*
Maybe he'd feel better tomorrow. Maybe.
*Phase pistol? Since when does Malcolm carry a phase pistol at his waist when he's off duty?* Trip wondered. "Hey, Mal, ya know ya look a bit silly with your phase pistol hanging there like that?"
Malcolm remained quiet. "Geez, it was a joke, Malcolm. Hahaha, funny funny?"
"Commander," Archer began, "Malcolm and I are here because we need to speak to you."
"Fire away," Trip replied then flashed a grin. "I prob'ly shouldn't say that in front of Malcolm, huh? He might take it literally. Really, Cap'n, ya think lettin' him carry around those pistols is a good idea? It's libel to reinforce his paranoia."
*Damn, the Captain isn't smiling either,* Trip noticed. "Well, get on with it so I can eat in peace. The last thing I want is to be stuck in a room with two humorless bastards," Trip said to the Captain.
Archer's mouth tightened into a line at his last comment. "Excuse me, Commander?" he said angrily, emphasizing the rank.
"I didn't mean anything by it, Cap'n-" Trip began but Archer interrupted him.
Malcolm watched the Captain and Commander Tucker in morbid fascination. While Trip was usually casual in his relationship with the Enteprise crew, this kind of blatant disregard for the Captain's rank was unheard of. *It just isn't like Trip,* a voice argued in the Brit's head.
*I must not think of that right now. Right now he is Commander Tucker, not Trip. And I am Lieutenant Reed, armory officer, not Malcolm, Trip's friend.* For the second time that night, Malcolm lamented being a Reed.
The Captain did not answer. He was, for once, going by the book. Trip's investigation would proceed exactly according to Starfleet regulations.
Malcolm was rather sorry that the Captain had chosen the present situation to begin following protocol. Regardless, it was Malcolm's duty to inform the Commander, "Commander Tucker, you stand accused of attempted assault and jeopardizing the mission of the Enterprise."
"Assault?" Trip said in surprise. "Who the hell did I supposedly assault? And what mission exactly did I 'jeopardize'?"
Malcolm was thankful to have the Captain take over. "Ambassador Soval has accused you of acting hostile towards him in his quarters. Doing so placed the peace conference in jeopardy."
"Soval? That bastard," Trip spat. At the look he received from the Captain, Trip grew more irritated. "He assaulted me! He gave me the Vulcan nerve pinch."
Malcolm's stomach began to knot. Trip was growing increasingly irritable, and Archer increasingly calm. *I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't like it,* Malcolm chanted quietly.
"Self defense?" Trip snorted. "Didn't know lying was so damn logical."
"Tell us what you remember, beginning with dropping off Ambassador Shran," Archer suggested.
"Why should I? Seems to me that ya already have made up your mind. Why don't ya just have Malcolm toss me in the brig?" Trip retorted.
Malcolm was horrified. *Oh, bloody hell. What's gotten into him?* The armory officer could practically hear the Captain's gritting his teeth. *Not good, not good, not bloody good at all.* Malcolm noted.
"Maybe that's a good idea. Malcolm, escort Commander Tucker to the brig. Perhaps after he's been there a couple days he'll want to talk to us."
Malcolm didn't move. "Commander Tucker, it would be most prudent of you to comply with the Captain's questions," he told the man he considered his friend.
"Lieutenant Reed! Escort Commander Tucker to the brig. That's an order," Archer commanded.
The full impact of Archer's wrath was not lost upon Malcolm. However, T'Pol had been correct in her assessment of the situation. Malcolm would insure this to be a *fair* inquiry.
"I require a statement from the Commander before I can lock him in the brig, Sir," Reed stated to Archer. "Unless you wish to change the charge from possible assault to insubordination."
Archer looked at the man a minute before turning back to Trip. "Well, Commander, it's up to you. The ball's back in your court."
Trip sat back in his chair and glared at the Captain. "Fine, Archer," he said, dismissively. "After we dropped off Shran, I starting asking that bastard Soval about what he'd done to T'Pol."
"What did he do to the Sub-Commander?" Archer asked, carefully using the Vulcan's rank as opposed to her name.
"Ya saw what he did! Or at least what I thought he did. But I don't know. . .
T'Pol says . . . " Trip's voice trailed off. He was having a great deal of trouble concentrating, and it was making him quite agitated.
"He was trying to be 'affectionate' with her," Trip finally managed.
"And that made you angry?" Archer asked carefully.
***A look of surprise flashed across T'Pol's face . . . she had not been expecting the gesture. Trip was certain it was an unwelcome one. . . T'Pol's
***Archer was at her side immediately. . . Seeing Trip rush to help as well, Archer shook his head. “No, Trip,” he said softly. “Don’t.” ***
***Archer picking her up, Archer cradling her lovely body close to his. . . Archer inhaling her scent . . . Archer bending close enough to kiss her. . . Archer carrying her to sickbay. . .***
"I was angry, Cap'n," Trip admitted. "The question is why weren't you? Aren't ya supposed to be the Captain of the fucking ship? Or were you to busy tryin' to force yourself on T'Pol that ya failed to do your duty as Captain?" The jealousy coursing through Trip's veins overrode his common sense. This man sitting in front of him, daring to touch his T'Pol. . . as though he had the right to be *affectionate* with her.
The bottom fell out of Malcolm's world at that point. *I'm going to have to lock my best mate in the brig. Bugger, bugger, bugger.*
"Your point, Commander Tucker?" When Captain Archer spoke, his voice was deadly quiet. If possible, the knot in Malcolm's stomach only grew tighter.
"My point, Cap'n, is that I was only lookin' out for the best interest of the crew. Somethin' ya should have been doing, but were not. Because you were too busy-"
"I have not 'forced' myself on the Sub-Commander. Further, that's a very dangerous allegation, Commander Tucker," Archer warned.
"Really? Then perhaps I imagined the Frankenstein 'date'? Or-"
"Captain Archer!" The sound of Ambassador Soval's voice interrupted whatever Trip was going to say next.
Malcolm, Trip and Archer turned to see the Vulcan Ambassador walking towards them.
"Ambassador, I'll be with you in just a moment," Archer informed the Vulcan.
With a sigh, Archer turned to Trip. "You, Commander, are confined to quarters until you hear otherwise."
"Fine," retorted Trip as he stood from the table.
"Lieutenant Reed, escort the Commander to his quarters," Archer instructed the Lieutenant.
Reed nodded. "Let's go, Commander."
For a moment, Trip was going to comply, until he heard Soval say to Archer, "Has you informed the Sub-Commander of my wishes for tomorrow?"
Trip swirled around to face Soval. Malcolm reached for his arm, but Trip shrugged it off easily, as the armory officer had not been prepared for the need to physically restrain Trip.
Marching up to Soval, Trip came nose to nose with the Vulcan. "You need to stay away from T'Pol. She's not you're property to do with what ya chose," he told the Vulcan.
Malcolm moved to restrain Trip, but Archer, standing behind Soval, shook his head. He didn't want to hear this conversation, but he had a hunch he *needed* to.
"Like hell it's not. She's sick, and I won't have you aggravatin' her," Trip argued.
"I am aware of her illness. She has apparently become too ill to proceed on this ship," Soval replied stoically.
Trip's voice rose. "She's not goin' anywhere! Ya aren't takin' her off the Enterprise."
"You are mistaken," replied Soval.
Trip snapped. The jealousy, anger, and irritation he had felt since leaving sickbay had steadily been increasing. Archer had made it worse, with his incessant interference.
Soval completely broke Trip's resolve.
Charles Tucker III, chief engineer of the first warp 5 Earth ship, slugged the Vulcan Ambassador to Earth square in the nose. The ensuing *crack* of bone and squish of green liquid was very satisfying to Trip.
Unfortunately, the feeling immediately following his gratification was not as pleasing, as he found himself restrained by one very strong, very muscular armory officer.
Archer stared at Trip in disbelief. Here was conclusive proof that the very thing Archer had been trying so hard not to believe. . . was true. After all, if Trip would attack Soval in Archer's presence, what was to stop him from doing so when the two were alone? Forcing himself back into Captain mode, Archer instructed
Reed, "Take him to the brig, Lieutenant. Place a guard outside his cell at all times."
"Aye, Sir," came the reply.
Malcolm released Trip and brandished his phase pistol. "Come along, Commander Tucker. Please do not make me use this weapon," Malcolm added.
Ignoring them, Malcolm and Trip arrived at their destination without incident. Once there, Trip found his voice once again.
"How could ya, Malcolm?" the Commander inquired of the Lieutenant. "I thought ya were my friend."
"I am your friend, Commander. As is Captain Archer," Malcolm replied calmly. "However, my hands are tied in this matter. Now kindly step into the brig."
Trip complied. Slumping down in his cell, he turned his blue eyes up to look at Malcolm sadly. "No you aren't," he whispered.
Malcolm stared the man. "How can you say that? This has nothing to do with me! You're the one who was insubordinate and assaulted a high ranking alien official. How dare you try to make me feel guilty for doing my duty?"
"Your duty?" Spat Trip. "You're allowing a conniving, weasel bastard to room the ship. One that threatens the well being of the second in command. How is that doing your duty, Lieutenant?"
"If he was a threat, Commander, the Captain would not permit him to be on the ship," Malcolm responded. "You are simply allowing your personal feelings for the Sub-Commander to interfere with your position."
Anger boiled inside Trip, wanting to hurt Malcolm. *Why can't he see? He must know what Soval is planning on doing. . .Malcolm stands in the way too.* Instantly, Trip's voice elevated. ""Ya know how you said you invested too much time tryin' to figure me out, Lieutenant? Well, ya aren't the only one. I'm just sorry. It was obviously a waste of my time."
Trip's parting shot was a low blow. To the armory officer's credit, his armor appeared unflappable as he moved to the comm and summoned a junior officer to the brig to stand guard. Malcolm's mask remained firmly in place until long after he was safely in his quarters and snuggled under the sheets. There, for the first time since childhood, Malcolm allowed tears to be shed. His original rational was that he would allow only one tear to be shed. For the loss of his friendship. That one grew to two. One for his friendship; one for the loss of Commander Tucker's brilliant career. The two became three: one for his friendship; one for the loss of Commander Tucker's brilliant career, and one for the relationship between Trip and T'Pol which would never be able to prosper.
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Three people have made comments
Wonderful, brilliant! Oh wow, poor Trip, poor Malcolm and poor clue-less Jon. I am sure that rotten sneak Soval messed with Trip's mind to manipulate him into overly aggressive behaviour to remove him from any position where he could possibly protect T'Pol. Although he should not have hit Soval, I hope he broke his disingenuous nose! Hurry with the next part and thanks for an excellent story. Ali D :~)
Well done on another exciting chapter. Poor Trip, out of favour with John, locked away from t'Pol and unable to protect her. Hopefully, Malcolm will look out for her, because it seems John's too busy being the diplomat to see the wood for the trees...
oh my.... wow.... this is bad very very bad!