"Armory Officer's Star Log: It's been an unusual day. Spending 12 plus hours underground with a bullet in one's leg isn't how I generally like to spend my Saturdays. Still, Dr. Phlox says I can resume light duties tomorrow, and the injection he gave me for the pain is working wonders. Computer, pause recording."
Lieutenant Reed winced his way from one end of his small quarters to the bed sitting so invitingly at the other. He sat, sighing heavily at the pressure taken off his injured leg. The random thought passed through his mind, Too bad there's no one here to keep me company in this bed. He shook his head at the idea, knowing full well that his position (if not his relatively accessible rank of lieutenant) on Enterprise was as much a deterrent to connubial partnership as was his orientation.
"Where was I?" he muttered to no one. "Computer, resume recording." He considered for another brief moment before continuing his log entry. "I've reviewed Ensign Cormack's weapons' status report. Her recommendations regarding new phasic weapons bear some serious consideration. It would certainly be useful next time we run into a ship of those oh-so-charming Klingons." The last was said with his typical wry, British sarcasm. "I've set up a meeting with her for tomorrow at 0900 hours." Should be interesting. She's a bright young officer, very smart. Too bad she's a she. Aloud, he said more sharply than necessary, "Computer, pause recording."
"Get a hold of yourself, Reed," he ordered quietly, though his rebellious brain couldn't help sniping, Haven't you done enough of that lately? "You're acting like a randy kid. You're an adult and an officer. You're in for a long tour, and you'll only make it longer by torturing yourself like this."
Usually, it was easy. If he ever got too frustrated, he could throw himself into his work. Nothing beat blowing things up when you needed to release some tension. Well, he amended, almost nothing. But injured as he was, Dr. Phlox had ordered him to rest for a day before easing back into his duties. On top of being shot, he'd gotten somewhat dehydrated while he was stuck in the Novan tunnels. Combine that with his body's adverse reaction to the digger meat he'd eaten, and his homecoming had been less than joyous. Still, he was feeling better now, and with recovery came the need for something to do. So, here he was with most of Sunday to kill and nothing with which to kill it.
The computer chimed a reminder, startling him from his reverie. "Oh, right," he said. "Computer, end log entry." The computer chimed once again as it complied with his command.
Wearily, Reed lay back on his bed, noting happily that the painkiller seemed to have taken complete effect; his leg had ceased hurting at last. He yawned widely as disparate desires traded places within him. He wanted to get up and do something, anything (even if it was just take a cold shower), but another part of him was positively bone-tired. Not normally given to mid-day naps, he wondered if the good doctor hadn't also added a sleeping drug to the painkilling injection. He pulled himself upright, planning to go over some old technical journals, but exhaustion won out in the end. He lay back down and pulled the blanket over himself.
"Computer," he said before sleep claimed him, "wake me at 1345 hours."
Strong but surprisingly gentle hands were massaging his neck and shoulders. He sighed contentedly, letting the skilled hands work the warm, scented oil into his sore muscles.
He gave a muffled moan of pleasure. "That's wonderful," he said. "Where on Earth did you learn to give massages like that?"
"My talents aren't limited to the engine room, Malcolm," Trip whispered teasingly into his ear. "I thought you knew that by now."
Malcolm rolled over onto his back and looked up at the handsome, muscular engineer. "Why don't you show me just what those talents are?" he asked, smiling rakishly.
"Oh, I'd be happy to." Trip leaned down over him, and Malcolm could smell the mint of his breath as he arched up to receive the approaching kiss
The soft chirrup of the alarm was usually enough to wake him without trouble. Not this time. Slowly, Reed forced tired eyes to open and focus on the nearby chronometer.
"Damn!" he swore, throwing back the blanket and sitting up a little too quickly. He sucked air in through his teeth at the sudden stab of pain in his leg. "Damn!" he said again. "Computer, alarm off!" The noise abruptly ceased. He looked again at the bedside chronometer. He wasn't mistaken; the alarm had been chiming for ten minutes before he'd heard it. He was due in sickbay for physical therapy at 1400—only five minutes from now. He hated being late. He ran a hand through his unruly "bed head" and jammed on his boots, gritting his teeth at the increased throbbing in his only recently treated wound. Muttering a few more brief obscenities, he headed out of his cabin and toward sickbay.
As it turned out, he was only three minutes late for his appointment. The affable Dr. Phlox wasn't in the least perturbed by his tardy arrival.
"Ah, Lieutenant," the Denobulan said pleasantly. "Did you sleep well?"
"So you did put a sedative in that injection," Reed accused.
"No. Not at all. It's not my policy to administer any drugs without the knowledge of the patient." He smiled his quirky, alien smile. "I just deduced from your somewhat disheveled appearance and uncharacteristically late arrival that you'd been sleeping."
Reed looked down at his wrinkled cover-alls and ran a hand once more through his dark brown hair. He gave Phlox a somewhat abashed look and shrugged. "Sorry to keep you waiting."
"No need to apologize. Now, if you'd just strip down to your blues and lie down, I'll take a look at that wound before we start your physical therapy."
Too bad it's Phlox and not Trip saying that, Reed's rebellious mind complained. He dropped the boot he'd just removed, shocked at his own thoughts.
"Lieutenant?" Phlox asked solicitously.
"I'm fine. Just slipped," he added, indicating the fallen boot. Where the hell did that thought come from? he wondered. Then he remembered. He'd been dreaming when his alarm went off, and oh what he'd been dreaming about. Focus, Malcolm, he ordered himself. You have no evidence whatsoever that he's in any way tilted your way. Let it go. The last thing he needed was for his mind to lead him where his body would undoubtedly want to follow when he was wearing nothing but his undergarments in a room with a witness a witness with a doctor's natural curiosity about all things physiological.
Blocking out all internal distractions, the Armory Officer finished disrobing down to the regulation skivvies everyone referred to simply as "blues," and laid back on the diagnostic bed.
All in all, he considered he'd gotten through it relatively well. He'd only caught his mind wandering once and stopped it before it could go so far as to be visible to any observer. Seeing as Dr. Phlox had been observing just about everything, he counted himself lucky. As long as that medical scanner didn't pick up anything, the thought suddenly occurred to him. But if it had, Phlox hadn't mentioned it, and Reed had little doubt the alien doctor would comment on any interesting new thing that caught his attention.
He was lost in thought as he approached the lift that would take him back to B-deck, and so might be forgiven for running smack into Commander Tucker when the lift doors opened.
"Whoa!" Trip put a steadying hand on the smaller man's shoulder. "You okay?"
"What? Yes. Thanks," Reed said, somewhat flustered. "Sorry. Were you getting out?"
"Nope." He stepped farther back into the lift, allowing Reed to enter. The lieutenant tapped a panel and requested the deck he wanted. "Surprised to see you up and around," Trip said amiably as the lift resumed its course.
"I just came from sickbay. Physical therapy. I'm not back on duty until tomorrow."
"Well, I'm glad you're doing better. We were all worried about you while you were stuck down in those tunnels."
Reed glanced sideways at Tucker, but the engineer was staring ahead at the lift doors. Damnable "lift etiquette," he thought, wishing he could make eye contact with the man beside him, maybe glean a little more information out of his expression.
The lift slowed and halted. Trip gave Reed an encouraging pat on the shoulder. "Get better," he said. "See you around." The lift doors opened, then closed behind the commander, leaving Reed alone to finish the quick trip back to B-deck.
He was cursing internally when he finally escaped into the solitude of his quarters. "Computer, lock the door." He sat on the edge of his bed. "What a stunning conversationalist you've become," he berated himself quietly. "The man's your co-worker, maybe even a friend. Don't screw it up now by acting like an idiot."
He moved over to his small desk, determined to get on with this interminable day. You've been complaining you didn't have any time to catch up on your technical journals, he reminded himself. Might as well take advantage of the time off.
But it wouldn't work. When he realized he'd read the same paragraph on hull-plating polarization for the fifth time, he gave it up for lost. If the doctor hadn't specifically told him to take it easy on his leg, he'd have hit the gym for a workout—the third best way he knew of relieving tension.
"Give it up, Malcolm," he muttered. "It's never going to happen." But there's no harm in letting your imagination wander, his libido added. So, let it wander, and maybe you'll get it out of your system. He considered this option very carefully before deciding.
"Time for a cold shower again."
It wasn't the first time he'd found himself resorting to this option—undoubtedly his least favorite way to relieve tension. He only wished he was high enough in the command structure to rate a shower in his quarters. Unfortunately, that wasn't an option on a ship like Enterprise. Sure, it was the largest starship Starfleet had ever commissioned, but it was still somewhat cramped. He was lucky his position as an Alpha shift bridge officer allowed him his own quarters with a small, en suite lav. But he had to make do with the communal crew shower room.
Every deck that held crew quarters was divided into several sections. There was one shower room for every two sections, and he wasn't far from his. Grabbing a robe and towel, he headed down the corridor towards it. Arriving, he was pleased, though not surprised, to find it empty; at this hour most everyone was either heading on duty for Beta shift or heading to the crew mess for dinner.
He chose a shower cubicle some distance from the door and stepped in. He stripped quickly, folding his kit on the bench, and hung the towel over the shoulder-high, frosted plexiglas door. Reed took the one step down into the shower itself, punched in the temperature he wanted, and hit the jet. Even knowing what was coming, he gasped as the cold water hit him from head to toe, and all points between. It didn't take long under the relentless pounding for the throbbing pressure in his groin to ease as all thoughts of romance were driven from his rapidly numbing mind and body.
He sighed as the water streamed down over his face, and he leaned his forehead against the cold wall. He really hated having to do this. Aside from the obvious unpleasantness of having your privates shrunken by icy water, it was positively humiliating. Pathetic, he told himself. Slowly, he pushed away from the wall. Shoving the wet hair from his eyes with both hands, he squinted through the deluge at the shower's control panel. He raised the temperature a few degrees and relaxed as his body reacted to the increased warmth.
When his teeth stopped chattering, he could hear more of the general noise of the ship and Another shower running. He wondered how long it had been going and who it might be and promptly lowered the water temperature once more.
Satisfied that his desires had been quite thoroughly squashed for the time being, he shut off the shower and began toweling himself off. Sufficiently dry, he wrapped his robe about him and secured it tightly before gathering up his clothes and stepping out of the shower unit.
"Hey, Malcolm!" came from off to his left. He spun round to see Ensign Travis Mayweather's friendly visage over a shower door.
"Hello, Travis," Reed answered, suppressing a wave of relief. He liked the young helmsman, but he fortunately didn't stir anything deeper in him than basic friendship. "What're you doing here?"
"Just caught a quick workout. Figured I'd better clean up before dinner or I'd get kicked out of the mess hall for smelling worse than the food." He grinned at his own joke, and Reed had to join him. In truth, the food on Enterprise wasn't at all bad, but it was a tradition carried down from the earliest sea-faring vessels to complain about it.
"You're going to use up your water ration if you let it run like that," Reed said, tipping his head toward the steaming shower.
"I know, but it's a habit I can't seem to break." The handsome young ensign shrugged. He continued to undress as they talked. "Growing up on my dad's ship you had to wait for the hot water to get through the pipes to the showerhead. Even now, I can't stand under one and turn it on, trusting it to be warm from the get go."
"Give it time," Reed said. "You'll get used to it eventually."
"We'll see. Hey, how you doing, anyway?"
"Fine, thanks. Dr. Phlox is very good at his job."
"He didn't use that eel on you, did he?" Mayweather asked apprehensively.
"No," answered Reed with equal trepidation. "I heard about the treatment he used on Captain Archer, and I'm happy to say I managed to avoid it."
"That's good. Well, my water's hot." He grinned again, acknowledging the absurdity of his own little fetish. "I'll catch you later."
"Right." Reed tossed his wet towel in the nearby laundry chute and returned to his quarters to dress for dinner.
"Hey, Malcolm, wait up!"
The Armory Officer stopped at the sound of Trip's voice. Play it cool, Reed, he warned himself. "Why, Trip? Can't you catch up with a fellow with a gimpy leg on your own?"
"Sure," the commander answered genially. "Just thought you'd appreciate the turn-about of waiting for someone else to catch up to you for a change. Join me for dinner?" he continued, overtaking the waiting Reed.
Malcolm's heart skipped a beat, but he forced himself to remain calm. This was a friend asking a friend to join him in the mess hall for a meal. Nothing more.
"Aren't you dining with the Captain tonight?"
"Nope. Even us command-types have to slum it sometimes," he joked.
"Well, I'm so flattered you've chosen me with whom to slum," Reed answered wryly, enjoying the friendly banter.
Tucker laughed out loud. "Come on."
By the time they'd loaded up their plates and sat down, the two officers were chatting and laughing comfortably.
"So how's that leg?" Trip asked around a bite of beef stroganoff. "I noticed you're barely limping already."
"Well, part of that's the painkillers Dr. Phlox gave me, but I'm definitely feeling a lot better than I did yesterday."
"I bet. Dr. Phlox really knows what he's doing."
"Yes," Reed agreed. He took a sip of water, wanting to ask something but not sure how it would be taken. Still, the opening was there But surprisingly, Trip brought up the topic himself.
"I know when I was " There was a slight hesitation. " pregnant, he was really good to me. I mean, I was pretty shook up, you know?"
"I can only imagine."
Tucker looked up at him from where he leaned over his plate. "Be glad you can only imagine," he said. Then he laughed suddenly, easing the slight tension his admission had built. "You should've seen the look on Dillard's face when I chewed him out about the safety of the open lifts in engineering."
"Why did you do that?" Reed wanted to know.
"Why? Because my hormones were spiking higher than a surge in the warp engines!" The two laughed. "I don't know what Dillard thought, although I'm sure he eventually figured it out, what with the entire crew finding out about the baby and all. So much for secrets on board a ship like this. Sooner or later, there just aren't any left."
Reed continued to laugh with Tucker, but his laughter was just a bit forced. I hope you're wrong about that.
End Log 1
As of 1 Sept 06: