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- Star Trek Enterprise

Intolerance J. R. Gershen-Siegel 1


There are women coming to the Enterprise! Travis Mayweather proposes a friendly competition with his friends – whoever gets the girl first wins.

But then the winner gets more than he bargained for, and learns just how much he can take.

How much can you tolerate?

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Star Trek Enterprise

Intolerance A Star Trek Fan Fiction By J. R. Gershen-Siegel

PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be not be appropriate for children under 13

TrekUnited Publishing This is a fan written work

The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee, Pocket Books. Any attempt to sell or rent this book should be reported to the copyright 3 owners for their action


To visit Janet online go to http://www.jespah.com

To talk about this book and to find more great Star Trek fan fiction join us on the TrekUnited forum at www.trekunited.com

First pdf online edition 11/07/2011

Published for TrekUnited by L'Stok Press www.issuu.com/Kirok.of.LStok 4


1 "I can't finish this." Hoshi Sato said, staring at the ruined remains of a hot fudge sundae. "Ugh. I can't eat any more, either." Tripp Tucker said. "Why'd you have to have that for your birthday?" "C'mon, it was my birthday! Can't I be Queen for at least one day?" she asked, smiling. "Maybe we can give it to Porthos." Travis Mayweather suggested. "That would be unwise." T'Pol said, checking her PADD. "Chocolate is evidently toxic to canines." Lieutenant Malcolm Reed came over. "I see the party is winding down. Sorry I couldn't get off shift earlier." "That's all right. But there's still a ton of ice cream. Do 5


you want some?" Hoshi asked. "No, thank you." he said. "C'mon!" she wheedled. Reed reddened slightly. "You don't need to lose any weight." she said. "Hmm. All right. Just a very small amount." he said, taking a little vanilla. "C'mon, if you're in, you're in all the way." Tripp said, bringing over the dish of hot fudge sauce. "Oh, my." said Reed. "All right. But only a little and I mean only a little." He tasted it tentatively. "Oh, that is rather delightful." He took more. =/\= The cramping started later. It got so bad that Malcolm went to Sick Bay. "Ah, what seems to be the trouble?" Dr. Phlox asked when he arrived. "This damned condition I've got." Malcolm said. "The inoculation you gave me is wearing off." "Well, you're not supposed to test out its efficacy by bending things so far that they break." Phlox fussed and got a new shot ready. "I don't, I don't love these shots." Malcolm admitted. "This will not hurt, Lieutenant. Just a small. Ah, there." Malcolm winced slightly, but it was the cramping that hurt more. "Ah, and an analgesic for the pain. And no more dairy products for at least twenty-four hours." Phlox scolded. 6


"Yes, I suppose you're right." Malcolm allowed. "I suppose I succumbed to a spot of peer pressure." "Really, Lieutenant, you're well aware that you've got lactose intolerance. Say no politely to dairy products and you'll see a lot less of me." "Yes."

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2 It was the morning shift, next day. Hoshi said, "Captain, there's a message coming in from Starfleet. It's Admiral Gardner." "On screen." said Jonathan Archer. "Jonathan! Thank you for agreeing to host the Nereid Medical Academy's Immunology resident rotation on such short notice." said the Admiral. "Yes, well, Phlox was rather insistent that we help the program. I know he'd love to teach a bit, and never gets a chance to." Jonathan said. "It's just a few students, right?" "Five. Plus their instructor will be with them, but only for the first week. For the other three weeks, you'll just 8


have the residents." "Very well. Names?" asked Jonathan. "Students are," the Admiral paused to check a PADD, "Blair Claymore, Pamela Hudson, An Nguyen, Will Owen and Mark Stone. Instructor is Bernie KeatingFong. Make sure to call them all 'Doctor'. Vulcan ship Ti'Mur will rendezvous with you tomorrow." "Very well." said Jonathan. "Oh and Jonathan, some sort of entertainment is customary." "Entertainment? Isn't being on a starship entertainment enough?" "This is a pilot program. Very high protocol, beloved by the Powers That Be. And Stone is the son of, well, I don't have to tell you who his mother is. So find some way of being extra accommodating. A party of some sort is good." said the Admiral. "I bet the Vulcans aren't throwing them a party." Travis said under his breath as he piloted the Enterprise. Jonathan smiled a little. "A party it is. We'll have Chef whip up something, uh, interesting and use the Observation Lounge. Thanks. Archer out." Hoshi closed the communications link. "Festivities?" T'Pol arched an eyebrow. "These are serious students." "Phlox will run them ragged, I'm sure." Jonathan said. "They'll probably need a party. Travis, lay in an intercept course for the Ti'Mur. Warp Two." 9


"Aye, Captain." =/\= Later, Travis sat down with Malcolm and Tripp in the cafeteria. "Did you try the beets? Are they any good?" he asked Malcolm. "A bit ... messy." Malcolm said. "Hmm. I'll pass. Y'know, I had an idea." Travis said. "That can be dangerous." said Tripp. "Pass the salt, please." "Those med school students? There are, I'm figuring, three of them." Travis said. "Didn't the Admiral say there were five students?" Malcolm asked. "Yes," admitted Travis, "but three are women." "And?" asked Tripp. "So I was thinking. A little friendly competition. A game! There's three of them. And three of us." Travis said. "Go on." Tripp prompted. "I haven't looked at pictures. Has anyone?" Travis asked, breaking a breadstick. The others shook their heads. "Good. We draw straws. Uh, breadsticks. Short stick picks first. Then draw again, short stick picks second." "What are we selecting?" Malcolm asked, dabbing his face with a napkin. "Which lucky lady we go after." Travis said. "There's 10


An, Blair and Pamela." "You said this was a game. Anything other than, ahem, connecting that would be what we'd, um, be striving for?" asked Tripp. "Well, that's the bonus." Travis said. "The objective is, whoever gets the girl first wins. And the prize is the other two cover for the winner whenever that's necessary, during these four weeks." "Gets the girl?" Malcolm asked. "What sort of proof are you looking for? I mean, I think it's a bit more mature to be discreet about such things." "Nothing graphic." Travis stated. "Just a kiss will be fine. We'll take each other's word for it. Anything more and you're on your own." "Hmm. Could be fun." Tripp said. "These girls aren't too young, are they?" "No, they're medical residents." Malcolm said. "Midtwenties or older, I suspect." "Are we agreed?" Travis asked, grabbing breadsticks. "Draw first, Reed." Malcolm took a stick. "Long one." Tripp selected. "Ah, the short one." "Looks like you get first dibs." Travis said. "Then I pick Pamela." Travis took the short stick back and one of the long ones. "Fifty-fifty shot, Malcolm." "I am unlucky in love." Malcolm said, showing the long stick. 11


"Then I pick Blair." Travis said. "Looks like you get An." "Very well. And in the event of a tie?" asked Malcolm. "I think we'll all be too, ahem, busy to worry about that." Tripp said. "Oh, hi, Hoshi, wanna join us?" The subject was quickly changed to Tripp talking about docking with the Ti'Mur.

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3 They were standing at attention, in the hallway by the docking port. Hoshi, Travis, Tripp and Malcolm were to the right. To the left, opposite them, were Jonathan, T'Pol, Dr. Phlox and security Crewman Deborah Haddon. "What should we do if, erm, one of 'em turns out to be, uh, not so attractive?" Tripp whispered. "Be a gentleman." Malcolm said. "Maybe a kiss will be a thrill for her. It's just one kiss. Hey, you never know." Travis added. Hoshi elbowed him. There was a sound of docking clamps engaging. The door opened, and out stepped Vulcan Ambassador Soval with a middle-aged woman who appeared to be of Asian extraction. She was short and slender, with a dark 13


French braid flecked with a little grey. She smiled as she entered the hallway. "Looks like that's An." Travis said. Hoshi giggled a little. Next came a young Asian man, with a Caucasian man with looks that could only be described as smoldering, followed by some Vulcans. Hoshi gasped. Travis touched her arm. "Hoshi, you're drooling." "Huh?" she smiled. Then a dark-skinned man, also very young. Hoshi gasped again. "Is this a medical program or a modeling program?" she whispered as more Vulcans filed in. Then. Dark brown hair, worn down, straight, past her shoulders. White, light skin, with just a small smattering of freckles on her nose. Short skirt. Matching short jacket, showing off her waist. Green eyes. Big smile at all three of them. "Please be Blair. Please be Blair." Travis whispered. Hoshi elbowed him, harder this time. "Travis, you're drooling." "C'mon, that's gotta be Pam." Tripp countered quietly. More Vulcans. Then. "Oh. My. God." Tripp whispered. Travis just stared. Malcolm squeaked out. "My."

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Honey blonde hair, back in a French twist that was coming undone a little. Her skin had a slightly golden cast to it. Blue eyes. Lips, painted, dark reddish-purple lipstick. Matching long nails. Leather vest, held together with dozens of little hook and eye closures that held her in and raised everything. Lacy top under the vest, short enough to show her navel as she walked. Long, tight denim skirt that swished as she walked, slit opening up to show her calves as she moved. Tiny little black leather boots with oh so high stiletto heels. Black leather choker around her neck. While she walked by, she raised her left hand in front of them to brush a stray wisp of hair from her face. Matching black leather bracelet. And no rings on that hand. She smiled very, very slightly, then looked them up and down, her eyes lingering for just a second about a meter above the floor. "Whoa." Tripp said as soon as she'd safely walked by. "Just as good going as coming." Malcolm let out a breath. "The blonde?" Travis asked. "Please, you're talking about the future Mrs. Tucker there." Tripp said. "Well, well." Malcolm said. "There's a thumb on the scale there. Still, I could get to know An a bit better, I suppose." Hoshi started laughing, then whispered. "An means Sky in Vietnamese." "And?" Travis asked. They were shushed as Jonathan spoke. "I'd like to 15


welcome you to the NX-01. We're pleased to have you here with us. I'm Captain Jonathan Archer, this is First Officer T'Pol and our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Phlox. The remainder of our Bridge Crew," he indicated, "Communications Officer Ensign Hoshi Sato." "Hiya." she said. "Pilot Ensign Travis Mayweather." "Hello." Travis said, grinning. "Commander Charles Tucker, Engineering." "Call me Tripp." "Armory Officer Lieutenant Malcolm Reed." Malcolm nodded. "And this is Security Crewman Deborah Haddon, who will be showing you to your quarters." "I am Dr. Bernardine Keating-Fong." said the woman with the French braid. "But call me Bernie, Captain. Allow me to present my students. First is Dr. An Nguyen. He attended the University of Exeter for undergraduate, and ...." "Oh. An is a man's name?" Travis asked Hoshi quietly. "Yes. You should have asked me." she said, smiling. "Now, listen. I wanna find out about my future husband. Whichever one of them he turns out to be." "Oh. So sorry." Travis said, a mock apology. "And this is Dr. Mark Stone, he attended Johns Hopkins for both undergraduate and Medical School." continued Dr. Keating-Fong. "And next is Dr. Will Owen," she indicated the dark-skinned man, "who comes to us via The University of Western Sydney for undergrad and Oxford for Medical School." she paused for a second. 16


"Now for the ladies." "This is what I'm waitin' for." Tripp said. "C'mon Blondie." "To my left is Blair Claymore, who attended UCLA undergrad and Harvard Medical School." she indicated the brunette. "She's very pretty." Hoshi said. "Yes, but the other one knows it." Tripp said. "I bet she's stuck up." Travis whispered. "Let's be professionals now." Malcolm whispered. "And last, but not least," Dr. Keating-Fong said, "is Dr. Pamela Hudson." That same slight smile as before. Dr. Keating-Fong continued, "She spent her undergraduate years at Dartmouth College and attended Harvard Med School with Blair. I'm sure we'll all get to know more than that about each other as we go along." "I'm sure you're all a bit tired." Jonathan said. "Crewman Haddon, if you please." They left. Hoshi said, "I've got, uh, I'd better go to the gym. For a week. See ya." It was just the three of them. They walked a little bit. "Y'know," Travis began, "it hardly seems fair." "Oh?" Tripp asked. "Seems like we should change the rules of the game." Travis continued. "You just want your mitts on my Pammy." Tripp said. "No, it's just not fair to Reed here." Travis said. 17


"Oh, I'm all right." Malcolm said. "No. It's not fair." Travis insisted. "Unless you, uh, go for an older woman." "I'd be all right with her, I think, but she's got on a wedding ring. Did you not notice?" Malcolm asked. "Huh. Guess not." Tripp said. "And, you're right. It is not fair. I'm not, uh, thinkin' with the right piece of equipment right now. How would you change the game? Keeping in mind it should be fair to all of us, even though it turns out there's only two of 'em." "Hmm." Travis thought for a second. "No assignments. We each go after both of them. No one gets first crack or anything like that. You try, you succeed. Or you strike out, and someone else gets a shot. Be persistent if you like. Same measure of success and same prize, all right?" "All right." said Malcolm. "And I appreciate your changing the rules for, for me." "'Course, Buddy." Tripp said. "But keep your mitts off Pammy. She's mine!" he laughed. =/\= Travis's dream that night was a lively one. He knew it was a dream, for a lot of reasons, but mainly because he was piloting the shuttle. This was not odd in and of itself, except that he was stark naked. He had two passengers, Pamela and Blair. He put the shuttle on auto. The two women got up and approached him. They were both wearing 18


little outfits like he'd seen on Orion girls. Filmy, flimsy, leaving little to the imagination. He was already intensely aroused. They hadn't spoken before, so his mind produced voices for them, from the female singing duo, The Sweet Cupcakes. Blair sounded like Annie Sisko. Pamela sounded like Tanya Chekhov. Pamela spoke first. "Are you sure we're safe here, Travis?" He just nodded. "I mean, we don't want anything to bump into ... anything." said Blair. "At least not unintentionally." She leaned over a console and he could clearly see how well her skirt fit her. "You said we'd be stuck here for ... hours." said Pamela. "Y-yes, I did." Travis said. "I can only think of one thing to do. But there's only one of you and two of us!" Blair complained. "That never stopped you before." Pamela said. "Ladies! Huh, lots to go around." Travis said. "We can see that." Blair said. "Help me get this off." He lifted her tiny top off her head. Pamela took off her own top. He tore off their skirts, which shredded and melted in his hands. They were all over him, and he could tell a little 19


bit about who was who, by following blonde or brown hair, both short and long, or pale skin or golden. Loud moaning turned into climactic screaming as they outdid themselves with sound. He eventually woke exhausted and sweaty, alarm screaming in his ear. "Whoa." he sat up, talking to no one. "I hope the real thing's half as good."

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4 "Huh, it's their Movie Night tomorrow." Pamela said, sitting in quarters while Blair folded a uniform. "I know. I got four invitations. Maybe a fifth since we arrived, so that's a good one a day. Haven't checked messages yet today. How many did you get?" "Eight. No, nine. I bet we got duplicates, some guy hedging his bets." she smiled slightly. "I've deleted mine." "Deleted?" "Yeah. Nothing imaginative there. Usual stuff, come to the movies with me, I'll share my popcorn with you, uh, it's all so dull. Same, same, same." Pamela yawned. "They're sweet. Well, except for the one that wanted to show me the Port Thrusters. Gawd." "You're not interested in any of them anyway, 21


Claymore." "Nope. A certain special someone is gonna get lucky tomorrow night." "Good thing. I keep watching you circle each other like cats. Still, good to know a girl's got options. The suit was a nice touch when we arrived. Got 'em all hot and bothered." "I can't pull it off like you can, Pam." Pamela glared at her. "Uh, Pamela. You know, you and I have known each other for two years and you have never let me call you Pam." "Nobody else gets to call me that, either. As for me pulling it off, heh, it's two things. One, leave a little something to the imagination. That's why I don't arrive wearing anything short or low cut. Let 'em wonder what's underneath all that fabric. And the other thing is -- you definitely help out." "Me?" Blair closed a drawer and sat at a desk. "Yes. We've got the whole good girl-bad girl yin-yang thing going on. Makes for a great contrast. They look at you and they think 'fresh-scrubbed'. They look at me and they think ...." "They think 'hot sex'." Blair finished the sentence for her. "Yep. And that's the idea. Get 'em worked up and wondering, and see if any of them can be imaginative. 'Course then we end up here and they're all engineers and whatnot and they think of screwdrivers rather than other things most of the time." There was a communications chime. 22


"It's your PADD, not mine." Blair said. "Hmm." Pamela looked. "Now this is interesting." "Oh? Can I see?" "Nope. This is, ha, it's a poem." "From whom?" "It's anonymously sent." Pamela shut off the PADD. "Aren't you going to read it?" "Not while you're sitting here." "Very well." Blair said. "You gonna give that one the time of day?" "Maybe more, if I'm so inclined." There was a chime at the door. "Come in." Blair said. "Oh, uh, hi, ladies." It was Travis. "Do you, uh, do you remember me?" "Pilot, right?" Blair asked. "Yes." he said. "And, uh, these are for, they're for both of you." He held out a bouquet, cut from the Botany Lab's excess. "Well, that was very, uh, charming of you." Pamela said, taking them. "Are you going to Movie Night?" he asked. "Sure." Blair said. "What's playing?" "Something called 'Dirty Dancing'." he said. "Maybe it's an instruction manual for the party the night afterwards." Pamela said. 23


Travis raised an eyebrow slightly. So far, so good. "And, I was wondering if you would, uh, both like to join me, uh, us, for dinner tonight." "Us? Who's us?" Blair asked. "You met them the first day. Lieutenant Reed and Commander Tucker. Unless you have to study." "We always have to study." Pamela said. "But we blow ..." she paused for just a second "it off whenever something better comes along." "Uh, okay." Travis squeaked out. "Eighteen hundred hours in the cafeteria." He left. "Oh, that was too cute." Blair said. "Think he's your poet?" "Not a chance." Pamela said. "Plus the whole flowers thing is the very nadir of predictability. If someone brings over chocolates or perfume then I'll just gag." "I should get ready then. Leave you to your poem and all." Blair said, grabbing a towel. "Happy reading." =/\= "Captain, we've got interesting readings." T'Pol said. "How interesting?" Jonathan inquired. "Neutron pulses. Emanating from the vicinity of heading 107 mark eight." she replied. "A natural phenomenon?" Malcolm asked. "Possibly." T'Pol responded. "There are no discernible patterns as of yet." "Well, let's keep an eye on them." said the Captain. 24


"And if they become a tactical issue, then we'll see what to do next, Lieutenant." he said to Malcolm. "Yes, of course, Captain." said Reed. "What kinds of unnatural phenomena could explain it?" asked Jonathan. "Nuclear munitions testing or usage could explain it. The randomization could be intentional, to make it appear as it were a natural phenomenon when perhaps it's anything but." Malcolm said. "However, nuclear medical facilities could give off these pulses in a manner that would appear to be randomized." T'Pol pointed out. "Hoshi, get me Tripp." Jonathan said. "Sure. Go ahead." "Tripp, we're getting readings of neutron pulses. Will those be a problem?" Jonathan asked. "Don't think so." Tripp said. "Keepin' an eye on 'em from here but I think they're just fluctuations. There's no planets out here and stars are a ways away. Could be the remains of a comet trail, too. Tell Travis to steer clear of the worst of it. He should be back soon. Thanks for lettin' me borrow him to do a little testing on Shuttlepod One. Tucker out." "Ah, Travis, you're back. Take us in closer." Jonathan said. "Yes, sir." =/\= Pamela read it again, just to see if the poem really said 25


what she thought it did. A golden lady, a star to shine A small, shy and elusive smile Can I ever hope to make her mine? For eternity, or just a little while? A stormy sea, a tempest's rage A thing that cannot be contained As passion pours upon the page The knave waited while the Queen reigned A fire burning, a torrid blaze A healing thought, a desired touch As stars turn lonely nights into yearning days And the knave hopes his feelings are not too much I know that this is happening very fast I cannot be your first lover, so let me be your last She turned off the PADD when Blair came back into the room. "Aren't you going to change?" she asked Pamela. "Uh, yes, just a sec." She emerged from the small bathroom several minutes later. "That's kind of over the top." Blair said. "You've seen my 'over the top'." Pamela said. "You know 26


this is pretty normal for me." "Those pants are too tight on you." "If I can still breathe and walk, they aren't." =/\= It was pizza night. The cafeteria was crowded and loud. "Y'know, I like Chef's cooking and all," Tucker yelled above the din, "but I've had better pizza in Manhattan. Why does everyone line up as if it's the last time they're ever gonna see pizza?" "I'm sure I don't know." Malcolm said, scraping cheese off a slice. There was a slight whistling sound. They looked up. Blair was wearing jeans and a white sweater. Pamela had on menswear-type pants with a grey pinstripe, and a green wrap sweater that was open enough to reveal just a hint of ecru lace. Malcolm stood up first. He'd always been taught that. Stand in the presence of a lady. "Good, good evening." he said, pulling out a chair. Travis just stood there, entranced. Tripp smiled and said, "Uh, ladies? Do we need to reintroduce ourselves?" "No." Pamela said. "Mayweather, right? Pilot. Fastmoving equipment." "Y-yes." "And you're Tucker. Engineer. Lots of power." "That's me." 27


"And you're Reed." she paused. "Big. Gun." Her eyes flashed slightly. Malcolm swallowed. "Wish I could think of something witty to say." "That's all right." Pamela said. "I put you on the spot." she sat down across from him. "Do we, uh, do we get in line?" "No, no, I'll take care of it." Travis said. "Any preferences?" "Mushroom, please." said Blair. "Something with meat." Pamela said. "Do you, uh, do you specialize?" Tripp asked. "I mean, Dr. Phlox is kinda a generalist but that's just 'cause he's here." "Obstetrics." Blair said. "Plastic surgery." Pamela replied. "Lotsa happy outcomes for both of ya." Tripp said. "Or not so happy ones, I'd guess." Malcolm said. "Stillbirths and the like. And disfigured people." "Yes." Pamela said. "Every specialty is like that -- you have all sorts of things you can do that are or can be positive, coupled with a lot that can be really horrific. That's a part of what makes medicine so compelling. You have tragedy infusing every triumph, or it can. That depth of feeling can really make you feel alive." "Two mushroom, two pepperoni." Travis produced the plates with a flourish. "Thank you." Blair said. "You guys were in the Xindi 28


War, right?" "Yes, we stopped the weapon from reaching Earth." Malcolm said. "Lost some good people that way." "And now we've got peace with the Xindi." Pamela said. "And our classmate, you met Stoney -- er, Mark Stone? His mother is the first ambassador to 'em since we made peace." "We all know about Emily Stone." Tripp said. "Huge political appointment. I try not to think about politics -give me an engine any day." "We haven't seen you for a few days." Travis said. "Lots of work?" "Oh, yes." Blair said between bites. "Dr. Phlox and Dr. Keating-Fong are really drilling us. I've barely looked up for the past four, five days. Is it four days, or five?" "Five." Pamela said. "Good thing it's break time. Movie Night tomorrow, then the party the next day, plus our instructor heads back to the Vulcan home world for a few weeks of lectures and whatever." "You're, you're attending Movie Night?" Malcolm asked. "Oh, sure." Pamela said. "I just want to look at the old fashions. When is that movie from?" "Twentieth century." Travis said. "They did look pretty funny then." Blair said. =/\= Captain Archer sat with T'Pol, Dr. Phlox and Dr. Keating-Fong in his private dining area. "The beef stew was really good." he said to the server. 29


"I'll be sure to tell Chef." said Crewman Delacroix as he cleared the plates. "Captain, I'll be leaving you soon." Dr. Keating-Fong said. "And while my charges are all grown men and women, they can be a bit, shall we say, sophomoric at times. The party might be a bit out of hand, so be aware of that." "Well," Jonathan said, "we were all young once." "So you won't be attending the festivities?" asked T'Pol. "Me, no. I've seen plenty of them. Everyone bends over backwards to make nice with Ambassador Stone's son. And, I have a rendezvous with your people anyway. I'm going to be giving a few lectures on extinct tropical diseases, like dengue fever and Hansen's disease." "Dr. Keating-Fong here is a foremost specialist on such things. Don't let her modesty fool you, Commander." Phlox said. "Actually, I bet that Phlox here is the only one of us who'll be at the entire party." Captain Archer said. "T'Pol will be on shift, you'll be gone," he indicated Dr. KeatingFong, "and I've got a date with a book." "A book?" Phlox asked. "Surely you can read a novel another time." "It's a play. Much Ado About Nothing." "Shakespeare? Captain, I didn't think you were the type." Dr. Keating-Fong said. "It's a compelling story." "At least try to come before the very end of it." Phlox suggested. "I'm sure Shakespeare can wait." 30


"You're right. He's been dead for centuries. He can wait another day or so.�

31


5 After dinner, Pamela caught up with Hoshi. "Ensign, uh, Sato, right?" "Yes." "Communications?" "Right again." "I'm Pamela Hudson. Mind if I ask you a question?" "No, of course not. And I met you a few days ago. I remember." Hoshi said. "Oh, all right. We all get so caught up in tests and the like; I forget that not everyone is doing that." "Your question?" "Oh, yes. How do you send an anonymous message? I thought that was somewhat impossible." Pamela said. 32


"Ah, you got it." "Yes, I got it. Did you read it?" "No. I don't do that." "Some special Communications Officers' oath or something?" "I just, I promised I wouldn't. Anyway, to answer your question -- I encrypt the message and hide the sender." "I guess you can't get into details. And that's all right; I wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. God knows I'm no cryptographer." Pamela admitted. "So I would, uh, go through you if I wanted to send a response to this anonymous person?" "Yes." "And you would, uh, assure that the message was delivered to the correct person?" "Of course. Send whatever you like. I can get to it tomorrow morning." "Hmm, well I'm not sure I want to send anything. Just want to know my options. And, uh, if another anonymous note is sent, would it be against your ethics to at least tell me if the two messages were from the same person?" Hoshi shrugged. "I guess not. Look, I'm off for a workout. Like I said, send me a note and I'll take care of it." Pamela returned to quarters. Blair was already back. "Good, you're back." Blair said. "Your damned PADD has been just chiming away." 33


"Huh." Pamela looked over the notes and deleted them. "Last-minute invitations for tomorrow. Nothing exciting." "No more poems?" "No." Pamela smiled slightly to herself. "Do you know who the poet is?" "I have a few ideas but nothing concrete. I mean, we don't know these people at all. So, assuming it's a man and assuming he's not one of our classmates, there are still some sixty or so possibles." "Don't forget the doctor." "Huh. Not into aliens." Pamela said. "And maybe there's some interested woman out there. Hey, you never know." Blair said. "No, this wasn't from a woman. The writer referred to himself and the reference was definitely male." "Anything else?" "I'm not gonna tell you, so don't even try to get it out of me." Pamela said. "All right. Um, I don't normally ask this, but," Blair said, "could you clear out tomorrow night? Please? It's, uh, you know why." "Yes, I know why. And it's fine. You know I rarely sleep in my own bed most of the time." "True. You know, two years ago, the first time you disappeared on me, I really worried. I was just about ready to call your parents when you walked in." Blair said. 34


"Good thing you didn't tell them. I don't talk to them. You know that." "I know, although you've never actually told me why. Still, I think they'd want to know if you were lying face down in a ditch somewhere, Pamela." "But I haven't kissed a ditch so it's all right. And you remember what I told you, back then? I said you should only start to worry if you don't see or hear from me in three days. Have I kept up my end of that deal?" "Yes, you have." Blair admitted. "But I can't help worrying a little bit. You are a grownup and can take care of yourself. Still, I mean, isn't it all right for someone to worry about you?" "I guess it's a little all right." Pamela said. "But I am thirty-four years old and very experienced with this. I am not going to do anything truly stupid." "Look, Pamela, I can't say as I can completely go along with that." Blair said. "I know what happened with Henry." =/\= "Cap'n, looks like it's a comet trail." Tripp said through the communicator speaker. "Oh? How do you figure?" Jonathan asked, sitting at the desk in his Ready Room. "It's not just neutron pulses. There's also some organic material comin' through." "Organic? Like what?" "Seems to be carbons, proteins, not too well-organized and probably not alive. Theories suggest that life was 35


brought to Earth by comets. This could be something similar." "Any danger to the ship?" "I doubt it. I s'pect these compounds could just pass through the ship and we'd barely know it had happened at all. Probably already has happened." "Hmm. Well, keep monitoring." "Sensors are a little tricky with this." Tripp said. "I'm not so sure we're getting all of the readings we could be gettin'." "You said this was not a problem." Jonathan said. "And it's very likely not. Still, our readings aren't perfect. So far, we're okay, but we might wanna skip away from the worst of it." "I'll have Travis do that. Archer out." =/\= "Oh, yes, The Henry Incident." Pamela made air quotes. "And just how much do you think you know?" "I know you were in trouble." Blair said cautiously. "I'm always in trouble." "No, this was different. I mean, even Henry looked a little concerned." "Ha, that lummox never worried about anything in his life!" Pamela laughed a little. "No, he was worried. Sheesh." "But most likely not about me." Pamela said. "More likely he was worried about himself." 36


"Maybe." "Look, right now we're on a starship, right? So unless someone shoves me out of an airlock, you basically know exactly where I am at all times, right? So don't concern yourself. And I will clear out as you requested -don't forget it's my willingness to do sleepovers that's going to clear the way for you and Lover Boy tomorrow night." Blair smiled. "Yes, I guess so. Just don't want anything bad happening to you." "I'll be fine. Now, what are you wearing tomorrow?"

37


6 It was the next day, right after dinner. Blair and Pamela were in quarters. "Not too much of that perfume." Blair said. "You know it can give me a headache." "Oh yeah, sorry. It just never seems to last long enough. Ha, story of my life." Pamela said, putting the bottle down. The label read: 'Toxic'. "Are you gonna hook up with your poet friend tonight?" "I'm still not certain who it is." "It could even be Doctor Phlox." Blair pointed out. Pamela made a face. "Not into aliens. Really." "Oh, I'd've thought you'd like the variety." 38


"Blair, Blair, Blair, there are plenty of variations that are possible with human males." "I can imagine." "I could sketch some for you." Pamela offered, smiling. "Huh, no. TMI. Anyway, back to figuring out who your poet is. How are you going to determine that?" "Collect data. Process it." Pamela thumped her left temple once. "Reprocess if necessary. Then act. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow." "Ah. And how are you going to collect this data?" Blair asked, slipping on a bangle bracelet. "I read a little. Seems there's going to be a discussion about the movie afterwards. So I'll make it a point of staying, and I figure the candidate may very well be among anyone who sticks around." "Possibly. That's not foolproof." "Well, of course not, but it does give me an opportunity to lay out some bait and see who," she paused for a second to adjust her lipstick, "bites." Blair smiled. "I'll probably skip most of that performance. I imagine we'll be outta there right afterwards." "As you should be." Pamela said. "Now, ready?" =/\= "There's more organic matter coming through." Jonathan said. "Can you check, Malcolm, see if it's affecting any of our tactical systems?" "Of course, sir. I'll see to it personally." 39


=/\= Movie Night was well-attended. "Ladies." Tripp said when he saw them. "We got seats right here. Scootch down, Travis." Blair sat between Travis and Tripp. Then Pamela on the other side of Tripp. "Should I save this other one?" she asked. "Yeah, I think Reed got caught up with stuff." Tripp said. The rest of the medical class sat behind them. A tall Ensign got up at the front of the room. "Boys and girls!" he called out. People quieted down to listen. "For those of you who don't know, my name is Chip Masterson and I am your Movie Guy. I'd like to welcome our guests from the Nereid Medical Academy. Now, it's customary for me to talk a little about the movie beforehand and then, afterwards, if you like, we can discuss it a bit. I don't normally get a lot of people discussing the films so I'm hoping you'll join me." "Oh, that sounds interesting." Pamela said quietly. "Really?" asked Tripp. "Sure." she said, then indicated the front of the room. "We should listen." "This film is called 'Dirty Dancing'." said Chip. "It stars, uh," he consulted a PADD, "Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The film came out in 1987 but it takes place over twenty years before that. One thing you might not be aware of is that the soundtrack is mixed. Part of it is period music from the 1960s and a part is original works 40


from the 1980s. This was probably intended to both sell more copies of the soundtrack and have the music better play in with the action on the screen. We'll talk about that afterwards, see if you can figure out which is the newer music written specially for the film, and which are the older pieces. A few other things you should know: the Catskill Mountains had a bunch of resorts. And the Peace Corps was a volunteer organization whereby mostly very young people would fly around the globe and do things like teach school in developing countries. It was considered to be a mainstay of idealism, kind of a shorthand for being a good person. And that's all I'll say about that. Don't want to spoil it for anyone. Oh and this film is being shown at the request of me and the folks in the Engineering Department, and is dedicated to our guests. And now, without further ado, 'Dirty Dancing'. Roll it, Aidan." A figure appeared to the side as the lights were dimmed. "This seat taken?" "Uh, I guess not." Pamela said. =/\= "So everything is all right?" T'Pol asked. "Yes, it appears so. Tactical is unaffected." Malcolm said. "Very well. Stand down, Mr. Reed." He left. =/\= Travis was the only one to realize Blair had put her hand back behind her and was holding hands with ... someone. It could have been any of her fellow students. He shrugged. Oh, well. 41


Tripp leaned back, yawned, and tried to put his arm around Pamela. She leaned forward, eluding him for the moment and instead looked at the man on the other side of her. Tripp put his arm back to where it had been. =/\= Malcolm saw Dr. Phlox as he was walking over to Movie Night. "I see you're late, too." said the doctor. "Yes. More's the pity." "I didn't think you were a fan of musicals." Phlox paused for a moment. "It's not the movie, is it?" "No, it's not." Malcolm said, looking down a little as they walked. "Your mating rituals do fascinate me. Always a complicated minuet of sorts. Mind if I observe?" "Yes." =/\= The lights came up. Pamela realized who she'd been sitting with. "Captain! I didn't think you would attend." "Oh, it's good to be out and about at times, Doctor." he replied. "Got plans for now? Most of the crew leaves and goes about their business, I understand." She smiled. "There's supposed to be a discussion. I thought I'd hang around for that. Will you?" "Hmm. All right." he said. "But don't expect any big insights from me." he smiled. "I probably won't have any, either." she said. "All right. Ha, this is a great turnout." Chip said. "Let's 42


put our chairs in a circle. And Captain! I am pleasantly surprised." "Well, I like to support what my crew is doing." Jonathan said. "But, uh, don't count my insights any more than anyone else's." "Come on over Doctor, Lieutenant." Chip said. "Aidan, get some chairs, yeah, there. Okay." Tripp sat next to Crewman Haddon. Then Travis, going around clockwise, then Chip, Malcolm, Aidan MacKenzie, Mark Stone, An Nguyen, Captain Archer, Dr. Phlox and Pamela on the other side of Tripp. Chip began. "Let's start with the music. I'll play a little from a song and you'll figure out if it's 1960s or 1987. Ready?" He tapped a bit on his PADD. The song went as follows: Love Love is strange A lot of people take it for a game "Okay, sixties or later, show of hands." Chip said. "Looks like seven for the sixties, four for later. Sixties is right. Next." The night we met I knew I needed you so And if I had the chance I'd never let you go

43


"Later." Pamela guessed. "Nope. Sixties." Chip said. "One more."

Now I've had the time of my life No I never felt like this before This time it was unanimous. Everyone guessed later. "Very good!" Chip said. "Now, what's the difference?" "The instruments differ." Malcolm said. "And the recording for the second one, it seemed, I don't know, a lot of sound." "The Wall of Sound. Phil Spector." Chip explained. "Okay, now let's talk about the relationship." "I don't know if it was so, uh, believable." Tripp said. "It's just, it's really unequal." "Yes." Pamela said. "He's like the knave and she's the Queen." "No, not a Queen." Travis said. "A princess, maybe. Rich but not in charge. I mean, she's called 'Baby'. That's not what you call someone in charge." "It's still uneven." said Deb Haddon. "I mean, she's really sheltered, and he's just some guy. Kinda makes you wonder what they'd have to talk about if they got married. When he's not dancing, he's just kind of, well, he's good to look at but not really that smart." Pamela laughed. "He's also more of a man of the world than she is a woman of the world, even though she wants to go overseas. Poetry in motion when they move 44


together, and it makes you wonder about how they move together otherwise." "Otherwise?" Aidan asked. He was dark and very attractive. She hadn't met him before. Could be fun but definitely not the poet. "Well, dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Or am I the only one who knows that?" Pamela asked. "You're the only one who thinks that." Mark said. "No, probably not the only one thinking it. Just the only one expressing it openly." Phlox said. "Minuets, indeed." =/\= Blair and Will were in her quarters. Things were getting steamy. "Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked her. "Yes, yes, of course! We've been going out for almost a year." she panted. "I know. And I love you. But I want to be sure about this. And I want you to be sure." "Will, I've done this before." she said. "I know. Just ... want it to be special." "It is." she said. "Because it's with you." He kissed her, her back bending over the bed as she threw her head back. He kissed her neck and she sighed a little. Carefully, he removed her top. She smiled at him. "It's getting very warm in here. You are definitely 45


overdressed, Will Owen." He grinned at her and took off his shirt, a lot more zealously than he'd taken off her top. "Very nice." she said. "You've seen this part before." "Well, it never gets tiresome. Now let me see more." He didn't need another invitation. Pants hit the floor. Briefs were tossed to the side. He helped her get her remaining clothes off. "You turn me on like nobody else." he said, bending his head down and kissing her breast. "Even though we're so different?" "I like the contrast." he said. "You're not Aussie." "You know what I mean." she said. "The visual part, not my accent." "Yes, I know, California girl." he said, kissing her. "And I love the color of your skin. The difference means nothing to me." "Good." she said, lying down on the bed. "Now come closer and we'll really see contrast." He moved slowly and carefully, as if she were an untouched virgin. Every time her breath caught, he followed up, listening for her cues as to what was working for her. When they merged, he started slowly and gently, even though he was very aroused, and held back while he made sure she was enjoying herself. When climax happened, he kissed her, hard, arms around her back, close, close, closer than close. He let her go and she sighed at him. 46


She finally opened her eyes. "Why did we wait so long to do that, Will?" she breathed. He smiled at her. "It just had to be right." =/\= "Okay, looks like we're wrapping up here." Chip said. "Next week is another musical." "Is the Engineering Department into musicals or something?" Pamela asked. "We just figured you ladies might like 'em." Tripp explained. "They're okay. A lot of fantasy. Not that there's anything wrong with that." Pamela replied. "Next week is 'Grease'." Chip said, reading off his PADD. "Starring, erm, John Travolta, Olivia NewtonJohn and some old pros like, uh, Frankie Valli and Eve Arden." "I bet that last one's a made-up name." Travis said. "Yeah, it's familiar. Arden, Arden. Where do I know Arden from?" Tripp said, not able to put his finger on it. "Yeah, it's, I don't know." Jonathan said. "Forest of Arden." Malcolm said, speaking for the first time in a while. "It's from 'As You Like It'." "Shakespeare." Pamela said. "This film wasn't exactly Shakespearean. I'm guessing that a film called 'Grease' won't be, either." "Probably not." he replied. "Low versus high-brow culture, I'd say."

47


"I gotta go study." said An. "Me, too." said Pamela. "I have data I have to process. Good night." She followed An out. "Going to the Sick Bay lab?" "Yes, as if it's your business." "It's not. But I'm going there, too." "And then making a conquest?" he asked, annoyedly. "No. Pulling an all-nighter. And not the usual kind." "So I'll be treated to your company." he said sarcastically. =/\= Will and Blair lay together. "I love you." she said. He smiled at her. "Do you want to meet my mum?" "Oh, Gawd. I dunno. That's an even scarier step than this was." "I promise she doesn't bite." =/\= Sick Bay at oh three hundred hours was a cacophony of sounds. Phlox was in and out, mostly out. "Rest period for me." he had explained. Pamela and An worked through the night. "That's the third time you've titrated the same sample." he said to her. "Yeah, well, I'm kinda tired." 48


"Why don't you go back to your quarters? You're no good here." "Don't you know? Claymore and Owen are hitting it as we speak." "Hot damn. It's about freakin' time." he said. "Look, uh, don't take this the wrong way." he yawned. "What am I taking the wrong way?" "Me offering you Owen's bed." "Oh?" she arched an eyebrow. "For sleeping purposes and nothing more. I got a spare bed and you need one." "True." she said. "Don't tell me you play on Stoney's team." "No. Just because I don't want to make your teeth rattle does not make me a gay man." An said. "Yes, you're right. Truce?" "Truce. C'mon, before you break a beaker or something."

49


7 Pamela crept out of An's quarters before anyone could see, and before she'd have to deal with him. It had been kind enough of him to offer her a place to sleep but she had bigger fish to fry. Coffee would be on the agenda that morning. But not until after a shower. At least the coast was clear at her own quarters. Blair and Will were ... somewhere. Good. Her PADD was flashing. She picked up a message from Hoshi: "This is from the same anonymous source." Hmm. The message was just one word: Tonight. Nothing more. Okay, she thought to herself. Tonight it is. 50


=/\= The Ti'Mur had sent a shuttle. Dr. Keating-Fong was ready. She smiled and shook hands with Dr. Phlox, who was seeing her off. "Oh, I almost forgot! I have a present for you!" "A gift, for me?" he asked. "Why, that's hardly necessary." "It's small." she said. "A token of teaching." He unwrapped the small package. "This is a box of chalk." "Yes. Teachers on Earth used to write on blackboards and students would read and often copy down what they had written. Teachers always had chalk on them. You're a teacher, so you should have chalk." "Thank you." he smiled. "I wish I had more chances to instruct. These next three weeks should be fun." "Yes, there's nothing like it." she said. "Being listened to! People hanging on your every word! I do admit it's a bit of an ego trip. But it's also rather rewarding. If you come to Nereid, can I persuade you to give a guest lecture or two on Xenobiology?" "Why, that would be a delight." he said. "Safe journeys." She departed. =/\= It was the evening, right before the party was to start. "What do you think?" Blair asked Pamela, holding up two outfits. "Brown or grey?"

51


"Um, grey." Pamela said. "With the drop earrings." "Good idea. Will likes those." "Ah, you are going to do everything because Will likes it, now?" "Not necessarily." Blair said. "I do like to see him happy, though." "Well, don't lose yourself in the process." Pamela picked a piece of lint off her skirt. "How can you sit down in that thing?" Blair asked. "Well, you usually don't. You just lean." Pamela said. "And you wear interesting underwear because if you cross your legs one way, heh, it becomes public knowledge." "I see you got new fishnets." "Yeah, the old pair had a hole in them you could drive a shuttle through." "Are you ready to go?" Blair asked. "Yes, but let's let 'em wonder for a while. Never arrive to a party early or on time. No one should." "Uh, there's a philosophical flaw in that plan. How, exactly, do parties get started if everyone is late?" "It's like the old Steady State theory of the universe." Pamela said. "No beginning and no end. Or maybe it's just turtles all the way down." "Maybe. Do you know who your poet is?" "Not telling you." "Oh, then you don't know." Blair said. 52


"Not saying." "No, wait. You have a good idea, just not 100% confirmed, right?" "I'm still not telling you." Pamela said, even though Blair was right. =/\= "Cap'n, those neutron pulses are startin' to get annoying." Tripp reported via intercom. Jonathan leaned forward in the Captain's chair. "How so?" "Well, we've got ..." The sentence wasn't finished because the ship lurched. It took almost a minute to get their equilibrium back. Everyone shook their heads, as if they'd been momentarily knocked out. "What the devil was that?" Jonathan demanded of the Bridge crew. "It appears we were scanned." T'Pol replied. "Check all systems. This is not just a comet trail. Hoshi, get me Starfleet." "Aye, sir." Hoshi tapped on her console. "Go ahead." "We've got activity here." Jonathan said to Admiral Gardner. "And this area isn't supposed to have any advanced civilizations. Any word on who might be out here?" "Nothing." said the Admiral. "Keep an eye on it, so long as you can, without endangering the crew or your passengers of course. But don't do anything big unless 53


you have to. Best for you to stay out of a fire fight. We'll make inquiries. Klingon home world is not so far away -- it might be them. Gardner out." "We should cancel the festivities." T'Pol suggested. "No." Jonathan said. "Not unless this happens again. The crew deserve a break." She raised an eyebrow. "I promise, if you call, I will come back." he said, smiling tightly. It had been a long week. Jonathan just didn't want this to overtake him and kill his mood. He felt a tiny bit funny, a little bit warm, perhaps, but it was nothing so he dismissed it. "Sir," Malcolm said, "I can set up targeting on automatic. Have it track the source of the scanning." "Well, the source is probably gone, or has moved." Travis pointed out. "Understood." said Malcolm. "But I can pick it up and have it track the signal if it reappears. I can keep it quiet -- it would not appear to be a hostile act." "Tripp, work with Malcolm on that." Jonathan said. "All right, be right there." Tripp said. "Tucker out." =/\= Chip was pushing chairs against the wall of the Observation Lounge when Aidan walked in. "I got it." Aidan said. "Oh." Chip said knowingly. "Punch is over there." "Good. I don't see how anyone thinks there can be a 54


party without a little liquid sustenance." He poured a fifth into the punch bowl. "Think those gals will loosen up with the application of a little, uh, social lubricant?" Chip asked. "I'm counting on it. I'm just dyin' to play doctor." Aidan replied. =/\= "Okay, looks like we're done." Tripp said. "This was a good idea." "And it's all set to let you know if there's any more activity?" Jonathan asked. "Yes, it'll ping my personal communicator." Malcolm said, demonstrating. "And then I'll come right back. No matter, uh, no matter what." "Good. I guess you're going to the party tonight." "I guess I am." he smiled slightly to himself. Whew. =/\= The party was in full swing when Blair and Pamela arrived. "See, I told ya. No early arrival and you're guaranteed a good time or at least a better time." Pamela said, above the din of music and talking. "Of course. When it comes to this sort of thing, I defer to you, my friend." Blair replied. Will came over to her. "The punch is spiked." he said, by way of greeting. "Everyone's been keeping Phlox and the Captain from having any. The dodges are getting interesting. Better have some before someone from the 55


Temperance Union spoils the fun." He gave her a cup. "My God, that's strong." she said, tasting it. Pamela made a beeline for it. Chip was there, and poured her a glass. "Remember," he said, "if the Captain or Phlox come over, give them this other stuff." he indicated a smaller bowl, off to the side. "Aye, aye." she said, swigging. "Doesn't anyone dance?" "Dance?" he asked. "We're all science types. Lucky we can dress ourselves when we're out of uniform." She smiled. "C'mon, you remember the film! Someone should start." "Y'know, you're right. But there's not a lotta women. Not counting you and Dr. Claymore, there are thirtyfour women. And fifty-eight men, not including your classmates. Or, um, Phlox, T'Pol and Porthos." he replied, yelling above the noise. "Who's Porthos?" "He's the Captain's beagle." "We haven't met." she called out. "First dance could be ladies' choice." she suggested. The song ended. Chip called out to the assembled throng. "I have received a request for some dancing!" People grumbled a bit. "But this one will be -- because we have such a skewed ratio -- it'll be a ladies' choice. Ladies! Get in the middle. Gentlemen! Into a circle around them." "You think that's fair?" Tripp asked Travis. "No more unfair than anything else. You want more 56


women, you'll have to go to Risa." They got into the second ring of the circle. "C'mon, Malcolm!" Tripp called out. "Too much competition." he said, hanging back. "Too many moths around a golden flame." "It's time to make your selections. Ladies, be fair! Give us guys a break." Chip said, getting on his knees in front of Blair. She smiled down at him. "Sorry." She found Will. Hoshi looked around and pointed to Mark Stone. He shook his head. "Hmmpf." she said to herself, and pointed instead to An. Haddon paired up with MacKenzie. The rest of the women found someone until it was just Pamela, looking around. One last confirmation. But where would it come from? She scanned the remaining men. Her eyes focused on one. His face reddened. Bingo. She approached. He looked down. She pointed. He looked surprised and a little puzzled. She beckoned. He followed. =/\= 57


T'Pol checked the logs again. So far, so good. No more scans, at least not for the moment. The festivities could go on. =/\= The music started up again. A fast number. She put her hand out. He took it, tentatively. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Yes, I am, Malcolm." she said. "Tonight. Right?" "Yes." he said, reddening again. "Tonight." She whipped him around to start the dance. He followed a bit, then yelled over the din, "I don't know the steps!" "Improvise!" she replied. He remembered, a bit, of how the movie had gone, so he repeated some of that. Sometimes he led, sometimes she did. Around and around, dizzy with it. The music changed. A slower number. He was ready to stop. She wasn't. "I, I don't know this one." he said. "I'm not very graceful." "C'mere." she said, taking his hand and putting it around her waist. "Just move slowly, in a circle." "I fear I'll step on you." "I can get out of the way quickly." He could smell her perfume. He concentrated on not 58


stepping on her feet. He looked up for a second and saw Tripp and Travis, watching. Travis said to Tripp, "I do believe we have a winner." "Yep." said Tripp. "Lucky dog." The song ended. Malcolm looked at Pamela. "Do you wish to continue dancing? I think I'm getting the hang of it a little." "No." she said. "Oh." he was about ready to give up. She turned to him. "It's too loud in here." "Yes, I don't normally go for parties." "Can I ask you something?" "Of course." "Outside. I don't want other people to hear." she said. "All right." They left the Observation Lounge and got into the hallway, ducking away from a couple who were kissing. He led her down the hallway a bit. "It's easier to hear now." "But not very private." she said. "Let's go someplace private." "Oh." he said. He'd had some of the punch and was feeling it a bit. "There's the Botany Lab over there. I don't think the plants will be listening." "No, some place more ... private." she said. "But my quarters are occupied."

59


"Occupied?" "Yes. Blair and Will? The bride and groom for gosh sakes." she said. "Then, um." he swallowed. "My quarters?" "You should clear your roommate out." "I don't, I don't have one." "Then your quarters it is." she said. "B deck." he said, taking her there. When they arrived, he opened the door and asked, "What did you, uh, what did you want to ask?" "How you knew how to write a Shakespearean sonnet." she said. "It was a very creative touch." He smiled to himself. "I just, I thought it would be appropriate. Did you, did you like it, Golden Lady?" "Yes, I did." she said. "Did you mean it?" "Yes." he squeaked out. "Then show me." He put his hands on her waist and leaned forward. He kissed her very lightly. "I'm not a piece of china, Reed." "No, no, of course not." This time he kissed her deeply. When they broke apart, he sighed a little. "Reed, I'll give you a warning right now." she said. "I'm only going to be here another three weeks. So don't get too deeply involved." "I, I see." he said. "Are you, is this, is it all right?" 60


"'Course it is." she said, initiating the kiss this time. She grabbed at his uniform a bit. This surprised him. "I'm not, I'm not used to women being so aggressive." "Does that bother you?" "No, it's, it's rather intoxicating. Are you, are you certain you wish to do what I think you wish to?" She smiled at him. "Yes." She kissed his neck. "I." She kissed his cheek. "Am." She kissed him on the mouth. "It has been, uh, a while." he said. "It's like riding a bike. You don't forget." she said, fiddling with his uniform zipper. "No, I don't suppose you do. May I help you?" he put his hands on her skirt. "That just pulls down, yeah, there." she said, then took off her top. He stood and stared at her for a second. She was wearing a black lacy bra that plunged low, matching thong panties and fishnet stockings that were held up by some sort of grippers on her thighs and, perhaps, some defiance of gravity. Plus those same little black boots she'd worn when he'd first seen her. "My God, you're stunning." She smiled at him. "I see you're more or less ready." She pulled his uniform off. He was standing there in only briefs, and they were not doing a very good job of concealing his condition. He pulled her close to him, then looked behind her in order to see what he was doing as he unfastened her bra. 61


They let it slip to the floor. Panties soon followed. She was left just wearing fishnets and heels. "Here, allow me." she said, peeling his briefs off. She smiled at him and lay back on the bed. He rolled down her right stocking and took it and the boot off together in one fluid motion. Then he moved to the left one. And that's when he saw it. Something he was not expecting. He touched it, tentatively, an alien thing. He swallowed hard. "P-Pamela?" "Yes?" "Darling, have you been, have you, that is to say, have you been bitten by a, a wild animal?" "Not exactly." she said. "Oh." he touched it again. The thread of desire was fading. This was not good. She looked at him and down at the alien thing, an irregular mark on the inside of her left thigh. "Exboyfriend." =/\= Travis and Tripp finished up the last of the punch. "And here's to Ruby." Tripp said. "And her sweet favors." "Yeah." Travis said, grinning. "You, too? I thought it was just me and Reed." "Reed, ha, it's the quiet ones," Travis said, "who can sometimes be the luckiest." 62


"I'll drink to that." =/\= The thread of desire was gone, gone, gone. Malcolm sat down abruptly on the edge of the bed. "My God." he finally said. "What, what happened?" "He got me in the femoral artery." she said, sitting up. "Did he, did he beat you, Pamela?" "It's all right." "No, it's not." "Yes, it is." she insisted. "It was a long time ago." "But ..." "Look, Reed. If you're not interested because I've got an imperfection, I can leave right now." she got up. "Don't go." he said, touching her hand. "Please. Don't leave." "All right." she said, sitting down next to him. "Still. I, Pamela, I will never, ever do that to you. I can, I can pledge that to you." "Reed, I'm warning you. Don't get too deeply involved." "Please." he said. "Let me at least tell you that you're, you're safe here. With, with me." "And I appreciate that. Actually, it was a bit of a favor." "A what?" Malcolm was incredulous. "Yes. I, uh, it's more sensitive there. Almost like I've got two, yanno." 63


The thread of desire was returning. With a vengeance. "Do you, uh, mind, Pamela, if I, uh, test that theory out for myself? For, for science, as it were?" "With your hands, your mouth or something else?" she asked, watching him becoming aroused again. "I suppose I'll just improvise a bit." =/\= Dr. Keating-Fong was tired. It would be good to be away from the kids for a little while. "Can you, can you turn the heat down a little bit in the shuttle?" she asked the Vulcan pilot. "Compensating." he said. "Thank you." =/\= Kissing her, no matter where on her body he did so, was a complete sensual experience. It wasn't just feeling and taste, but smell and texture and sound. The softness of her breasts, the hardness of her hip bones, the smoothness of her thighs, the irregularity of the scar, the smell of her hair, the pressure of her fingertips, the heat and huh huh huh of her breath -- they all conspired to lock him in. He held back -- or at least he tried to -- but it had been so long and she was so captivating that it was just not possible. Merging their bodies felt good, felt amazing. He fought to keep his composure, last as long as possible. She was thrashing and panting, hands all over him, mouth all over his face, his neck, his chest, whatever she could reach. When it happened for him, it 64


was like no woman he had ever known: hot, pulsing, like circuits overloading in his brain and popping. When they broke apart, she was back in a flash, kissing him all over, moving downwards, working to get him worked up again. For that time, he had her sit on his lap, facing away from him. This was a good angle, and he had better control so he could move more slowly and last longer, pulling her body up and down as they worked together. When he heard her beginning to pant louder, he kissed and sucked on her neck, hands on her breasts as he climaxed again. Finally they broke apart and he lay down on the bed. "Ah." he said. "I'm spent. You?" "Not completely." she said. "Help a girl out." she said, guiding his hand down. He laughed a little. "I'm not in shape for this much ... activity." "Practice makes perfect." she whispered in his ear, then kissed it. "Allow me to, um." he said, voice trailing off. "You've just had your hands all over and you can't ask me if it's okay for you to do something?" she teased. "I suppose I'm too refined. Too much conditioning. Always told to be oh so proper." "Well, what do you want to do?" she asked. He whispered in her ear. She laughed. "It's just you and me here." "I know. It's still not an easy string of words for me to say out loud, and hear myself say. Foolish hangup, I 65


think. Seems very foolish right now." "Well, don't ask. Just do." she said. He didn't have to be told twice. He kissed and licked around her scar and then moved a few centimeters over.

66


8 The next morning, Malcolm was shaking himself awake when he saw her, fully dressed. "Are you, are you going?" "Well, I need to take a shower and stuff." "You can take one here. With, with me." "And then get back into dirty clothes? Honestly, Reed." "Oh, yes, I suppose that would not be a good thing. Pamela, are you, are you free for, for breakfast?" "I guess so." "And supper?" "Maybe." "And all the other days you'll be here?"

67


"I don't know. I don't normally plan that far ahead. Like I told you, Reed: don't get too deeply involved." "Well, it's just, I was thinking," he got out of bed and approached her, and put his hands on her waist, "if you're all right with it, then let's be together for your time here." "Maybe." she said, looking at him. "You're, huh, ready to go again." "Yes. See what you do to me?" he said, kissing her. "There's not a lot of time." she said. "Still, I am already ... dirty." He smiled at her and reached under her skirt. "Here, let's get rid of these for the moment." He pulled her panties off and tossed them to the side. "I like how you think. I can stick around a bit." "Well, I feel freer with you. I, uh, I'll need to, to move against something if we, if we stand." he said. "Here." she said, backing herself into a wall. He was able to get good traction while she sweated in her remaining clothes. =/\= Brian Delacroix set out breakfast for the Captain's table. T'Pol, Doctor Phlox and Mark Stone would be joining him. He was setting out a few different kinds of jams when he noticed he was getting the beginnings of a sore throat. Probably nothing, he thought to himself as he set the table. =/\= 68


Malcolm got to the cafeteria first, and found Tripp and Travis eating together already. "Omelets are recommended.

good.

Get

the

Western."

Travis

Malcolm brought over a fourth chair. "Oh?" Tripp asked. "Yes." Malcolm said, looking down. "Congratulations." Travis said. "You won." "Now, Reed," Tripp said, "you do not have to tell me anything, of course, but, uh, I just gotta say, I bet she's a hellcat." Malcolm just looked down. "You lucky so and so." Travis said, smiling. "Who's getting lucky?" Pamela asked, arriving. Malcolm stood up quickly. "Here." he pulled out a chair for her. She thanked him. "So, big plans for today?" "Checking an anomaly, it looked like a comet trail but then we were scanned. That was a, a bump you may have felt early last evening." Malcolm explained. "As opposed to other things that happened later." she replied, grabbing his thigh under the table. "Could you two just get a room or something?" Tripp asked in mock exasperation. "We already have one." She answered, leaning over to grab the pepper. This revealed some cleavage. "Boarding house reach." 69


"Uh, ahem." Travis said. "Do you, uh, have special things to, erm, do today, Doctor?" "Yes. Surprise quiz that isn't really a surprise." she said. "Plus lab and all of that. I've got West Nile virus growing in a dish. Gotta check it; see that it's still going. My little infectious pet, I suppose." "Porthos is a lot nicer." Tripp pointed out. "Oh, the dog! A terrier?" she asked. "Beagle." Malcolm said. "Friendly little thing. Phlox likes him; I'm surprised you haven't met the little chap yet." "I think Doctor Phlox is keeping Sick Bay clear as there's so many of us in there at one time. Are you two also working on this, what is it, an anomaly?" "Well, I'm steering around it. We don't always have options. Klingon space isn't too far away." Travis explained. "Ugh. Klingons." she said. "Big lummoxes, they are. Do they, I've heard, do they smell?" "Uh, a bit." Tripp admitted. "I've shared decon with a few. It was ... an experience." "I hope I don't have such an intimate ..." she paused and looked at Malcolm, giving his thigh another squeeze, "experience with them. Ever." "Not too much chance of that." Tripp said. "Reed here's got the ship well-defended." "Nothing to, nothing to worry about." Malcolm said. "Good." she said, finishing the last of her breakfast. 70


=/\= "And you're going into which specialty?" Jonathan asked over breakfast. "Psychiatry, I think." Mark said. "But we haven't had that rotation yet. I might change my mind." "With the use of psychotropic drugs, I'd think that much of that specialty would be pharmacological in nature." Phlox said. "What I mean, in plain English is, after prescribing, what else is there to do?" "There's still therapy, still discussions. Freud's old Talking Cure." Mark said. "So people can still talk to their doctor and work out their problems, without being medicated?" Jonathan asked. "Sometimes. But mostly there's medications. It's easier, and it works better." Mark explained. "It makes one wonder if all patients desire such a treatment." T'Pol said. "Oh?" asked Phlox. "Yes. There are cultures where madness -- or at least a mild form thereof -- is considered to be the seat of creativity. Or at least, well, do patients feel, when they are medicated, that they could be losing their sense of self?" =/\= Malcolm got to shift on time. It was already shaping up to be an excellent day. He set to work quickly, checking logs and testing the targeting computer, making sure everything was absolutely, positively perfect. He'd run 71


his third diagnostic by the time Jonathan told him to quit and just work on figuring out the anomaly. He smiled to himself a bit. Always overzealous, he thought. Whatever it takes to keep her safe. =/\= Pamela, Mark and the other students sat on stools in Sick Bay. Phlox announced, "And today we'll be having a quiz. Open up your PADDs and click on the file that I've just sent you. You'll have ten minutes." "What file?" asked Will, showing Phlox his PADD. "Oh, that's interesting. I could have sworn I'd sent it." Phlox said. "I don't have it, either." said An. "Does anyone have it?" asked Phlox. Everyone shook their heads. "Here, I'll just resend it. No, wait." he said, checking his own PADD. "I don't seem to have it, either. Strange. Hmm. Well, then we'll just do it orally." Blair glanced over at Will for just a split second, and then looked away. "All right." Phlox said. "What are some means for spreading typhoid? Mark?" "Contaminated water. And, uh, asymptomatic carriers." =/\= "Could we turn down the heat a little?" a crewman asked Tripp. "Sure. It is gettin' a bit stuffy in here. Better check the environmental controls, see if anyone's been messin' with 'em." 72


=/\= The rest of the week progressed in much the same way. Malcolm and Pamela spent two meals together, and then their nights. During the day, he obsessed over keeping the Enterprise secure, or helped Tripp try to figure out the anomaly. The ambient temperature was cool in most of the ship, and Pamela liked it cool, too, so he complied with her wishes when they were together. The sex was intense and imaginative. He did things he never thought he'd do, positions that had seemed out of reach or strange. He got to know what she liked, but still tried to keep her guessing. During the day, he missed her, and rushed to be with her, mostly leaving his friends behind in order to be close, even if all they were doing was chatting over a snack in the cafeteria, or working out in the gym. Things altered in his head, and one day he got up and saw her sleeping next to him and realized that there was only one thing to do. It would require another sonnet, but not to be sent anonymously. No. This one would have to be delivered in person.

73


9 It was early. Phlox checked again. This was not good. The entire Immunology text was wiped. He called the Bridge. T'Pol answered. "What is the trouble?" "I have -- it's probably nothing -- but the entire Immunology unit has been erased." "Perhaps you can get a replacement from Dr. KeatingFong." "Good idea. And, sorry to trouble you. Phlox out." He muttered to himself a little. What was the cause of the erasure? He kept coming up with only one reason, and it was not a pleasant prospect. =/\= 74


Malcolm watched Pamela sleeping. He cleared his throat a little as he could tell she was waking up. Good. Before the alarm. He touched her head, entangling his fingers in golden waves. She woke and smiled at him, that same, slight smile that she gave everyone. "'Morning." she said. "How are you feeling, Darling?" he asked. "Y'know, I've never been called pet names before. And here you go with Sweetheart and Darling all the time." she said. "Is that, is that a bad thing?" "No. Just unexpected. Wouldn't have thought you'd be the type. But I don't do it in return, Malcolm." "I know. That's all right. I meant to ask you, are you -has it -- have things improved since, since our first time together? I know it was, I know it was fast. And I apologize for that. It had been so, so very long." "S'okay." she yawned, then grabbed at him a bit. "Pamela," he managed to squeak out, "can we talk just a little bit?" "Sure." she said, but didn't take her hand away. He fought to concentrate. "I, uh, I have another sonnet for you." "Oh? Should I check my PADD?" "Uh, no. I wanted to, to deliver it in person." "Oh, a live performance!" "Y-yes. And, uh, it's difficult for me to, to concentrate while you're, you're doing that." 75


"Oh." she said, moving her hand away. Then she whispered in his ear, "Be right back." "All right." he swallowed hard, then recited: "The Golden Lady chose the knave and shared and lit his darkest night A gen'rous soul, a heart to save She filled his spirit with her light A burning ember, burst to flame as kindred souls entwine and merge the knave, he could not be the same falling, ever falling over precipice and verge Her face was fair, her mind was keen her body offered untold pleasure And yet her heart remained unseen – could the knave unlock this treasure? The Queen, she came down from above She changed the knave, who did it all for love" He paused. She got up and immediately started rummaging around, on the bed and then on the floor next to it. "What are, what are you doing?" he asked, getting up. "I told you, Reed! I warned you. I told you not to get 76


involved. Now where the hell are my panties?" "What? Wait! Wait!" "No." she stopped what she was doing for a second and looked him in the eye. "I hate this part." "What, what part is this?" he asked, then began to shout, "Is this the part where you leave?" She kept looking. He repeated, louder. "Is this the part, Pamela, where you leave? Because you're thirty-four years old! You're, you're beautiful, and you're brilliant and, and women like that don't just choose men like me so I know -- I can see -- that the reason for all of the endings in your life, that reason isn't the rest of the human race. It's, it's you. It's that you can't commit. It's that people who love you scare you." He grabbed her left arm, harder than he intended to, and it reddened a bit. She stared down at her arm until he dropped it. "No. It's not me leaving. It's, it's, this is the part where I explain. And then it's not me who leaves. It's you." "Me?! I have no intentions of going anywhere." "You will. They always do. I may as well be dressed so I can make a quick getaway when you kick me out." She went back to looking. "Stop, stop, stop! Pamela!" Reed shouted. "Stop! What is it? What is so, so horrible that you cannot tell me? I, is it, are you, are you married?" "Ha, no." "Then what is so awful that you cannot tell me. You can tell me." he said softly. "You can, you can tell me. 77


And I'm, I'm sorry for shouting and for, for saying what I said." "No." she said, finally spotting her panties under a chair. "Nice guys like, like you, it's not what you want to hear." "I want to hear." he insisted, taking her hand. She looked away. "I totally and completely hate this part." "Tell me, Sweetheart. Tell me." "You asked for it." she said, straightening up and sighing. "Sit, sit down." "I'd rather stand." "Sit." she commanded. "People who get shocking news should be sitting down when they hear it." "All right." he complied. "I, you remember when, when I told you that it was all right. And what was all right?" "Yes. It was about your scar." "Well, it's not just all right that I have a scar. It's also all right as to how, how I got it." "How so?" he asked. "He -- his name was Henry -- Henry wasn't the only one doing the biting that night." "So you, you bit him back? And you defended yourself?" "No. I bit first."

78


=/\= Shelby Pike looked around the Botany Lab, turned on a few lights and adjusted herself to its warmth. It felt warm, but the plants were getting a little droopy. She checked a thermometer. 18.3 C. It was supposed to be 26.7 C. It certainly felt like the latter. She shrugged. Maybe the thermometer was broken. She added more growth solution to perk up the plants and wondered why it was always so damned hot in the lab. =/\= "You what?" Malcolm was suddenly glad that he was sitting. "You heard me." "Yes, I suppose I did. I'm, I'm trying to comprehend it. It's like it's all moving at Warp Factor Five and I'm only plodding along at five KPH." "I will spell it out for you. I instigated it, because that was the way Henry and I related to each other. And it's the only way I can really feel anything." "Do you, I, am I to understand that every time I thought you were, you were climaxing, that it was a falsehood? That, that I have never, ever satisfied you?" She sat down next to him and put her panties on the bed. "No. I did climax. My body does respond. But if you want to get to me here," she thumped her right temple once, "and here," she thumped her sternum once, "it's through, it's through pain." "Pain?" "Yes. Feeling it, inflicting it. Dominating or submitting. 79


I do both. Ready to kick me out now?" "I, I, huh. I want to understand this, I do! Do you, do you know why, why you feel this way?" "Yes." "And ...?" "And I can't tell you, because I know you'll only try to fix it. And I just don't want to be fixed. This is me. This is who I am. And it's ugly and it's messed up and it's wrong but it's still who I am." "You're not, you're not ugly. Nothing about you is." "No. You don't know me very well at all." she said. "If you did, you'd never call me generous. I’m not a kind person. I'm not thoughtful; I'm not helpful." "You're a doctor, Pamela." "And I don't exactly have much of a career ahead of me of healing as I do of perfecting and altering people, which is a whole other ball of wax." "You were generous when you, when you forgave me for performing so poorly the, the first time." he said. "And you've been generous to stay with me." "I --" "Pamela, I am not even close to being the most, well, attractive man on this ship. Yet you are here, with me, and not with the others. Don't tell me you didn't have offers. I have eyes. I know they still look while I squire you around. But you are here with me every night and in the daytime, too! I don't know if this means that you have feelings for me but you cannot argue against at least, well, kindness or, or at least a kindredness of spirit. 80


Like I told you in the first sonnet, it is all moving quickly, and if I have frightened you by mentioning my, my feelings, then I apologize but they are well and truly my feelings. I am, I am falling in love with you, whether you like it or, or not." She smiled a little to herself. "So we are at a stalemate." "No." he said. "I, I have a question. For you, in your first, uh, encounter, was it all biting and, and infliction?" "No, I was fifteen and trying to make sure that my parents didn't find out. That was the overriding theme." "And, and when did you, did you realize that you had these, I don't what to call them." "Proclivities." "All right." he said. "Proclivities." "I was twenty-three." "Was that with, with, you said his name was Henry." "No, Henry came later. That all happened almost two years ago. He hit the femoral artery and I ended up in Emergency. He thought he'd be taken into custody and so we kind of, it was mutual how we ended it." "Oh. So you weren't at Warp Factor Five immediately, then?" "No, definitely not." "Then here's a thought. And tell me if you think this could work. I, I cannot simply rocket straight to Warp Five. But if you, if you could see your way clear to being, well, patient, perhaps I could start at, at five KPH. And progress and see where it all goes. I am, I am willing to 81


try if you are, Darling." "There you go with Darling again." she said. "Are you sure? Because I've been down this road as well. There are some who've tried. But it all goes kerflooey at some point, where it gets too intense and they can't handle it." "How long has anything lasted?" "With nice guys, like you," she smiled at him slightly, "no more than about a month, five weeks or so. It's not a question of if. It's a question of when." "And what about Henry?" "Seven months. Longest relationship I've ever had. But I didn't have to have this conversation with him." "No?" "No. He was just a lummox I picked up in a fetish bar. So he already knew the score. No need to have this discussion at all." "You said you hated this part, this discussion. I suppose I can see why Henry would be, would be attractive to you." "It's, I hate this kind of a discussion so much that I will do almost anything to not have it. I have a lot of onenighters. And when they go beyond one night, I say 'I love you' far too fast. I stay in relationships that aren't working way too long. And I do it because I despise the talk so very, very much." she said, looking away. "One day, someday," he said gently, "it will be the very last time you ever have to have this discussion. And I cannot promise you that this was just that last, that last time. But pretend that it was, all right? And maybe that 82


will comfort you a little." "You are too kind for this." she said, getting up again. "I think you -- we, us -- I think we are worth it." he said. "So tell me. Where's five KPH? How do I, how do I start?" She thought for a moment. "Kiss me as hard as you can. And I mean hard. Harder than you think I can take. Start with that." "Uh, all right. How do I -- ?" "No warnings." she said. "Just do it." He thought for a moment and realized he was standing on the edge of a cliff. =/\= Hoshi stretched as she got up. Ow. Things did not feel too good. She'd been working out a lot. That had to be the reason for the muscle aches. Her PADD was flashing. A message from An. Would she like breakfast? Sure, just nothing hot. It was already too warm on the NX-01. =/\= Malcolm's alarm went off while he was thinking. He shut it off and saw that she was looking away. He seized the opportunity and grabbed her hair, planting a kiss on her mouth that was as hard as he could make it, crushing her mouth with his, forcing his tongue down her throat. She looked up when they broke apart. "How was, how was five KPH?" he asked, eager for any sort of a positive 83


response. "That was, uh, seven KPH." "Seven?" "Yes. The hair pulling. Nice touch. You've, um, got potential." she smiled and it was just a tiny bit broader than he'd ever seen her smile. "Oh, uh, good." he said, relieved. "I, uh, I can't do it, do it that way every time, you know." "I know." "And, and I have to draw a line. I can't simply beat you. That's not, it's not in my makeup." "That's, that's acceptable." she said. "Keep in mind, I go both ways, both inflicting and taking it, dominating and submitting. It's, it's easier if we both do both." "And how, how do we decide who's going to, uh, to be, uh, Alpha? Do we draw straws? Keep a schedule or something?" "No." she smiled, even more broadly. "I mean, do we decide in advance who's going to be on top when we have sex? We just do whatever feels good, right? This is similar. We just start up and see where it goes. Sometimes I'm Alpha. Sometimes you are." "Oh. This is all very new to me. I will have many questions." "We'll need a Stop Word, too." "What the devil is a Stop Word?" "It's when it's going too far. You say it when it's all too much. Particularly if you think the injury's going to be a 84


permanent one. See, Henry thought it would be funny to ignore our Stop Word. It’s why I ended up in Emergency in the first place." "Oh. What sort of a word are we talking about? I mean, isn't 'stop' a perfectly acceptable word?" he asked. "No, it needs to be something we wouldn't normally say while in the throes. And it's very possible that one of us would say 'don't stop!' so as you can see, 'stop' is out. It has to be something really odd and unexpected. Like, like 'avocado'." "Avocado?" he laughed. "Yes. I am being totally serious." "I know, Darling, but it's just so, so ridiculous." "That's kind of the idea. Actually, the whole thing is. I mean all of sex. When you think of how we look when we do it, how we look when we climax, it's all rather comical if you really, really think of it, look at it closely." "Avocado. Avocado." he said, trying it out. "And you'll stop if I say it? Immediately?" "Immediately. And you must, as well." "Of, of course. Avocado. I suppose if we really want to discuss bumpy green vegetables we'll refer to them as 'alligator pears' or some such." "Yes. It will be our secret word. Just like the rest of this is secret." she said, kissing him, much more gently than he had just kissed her. She grabbed at him again. "Pamela?" "Hmm?" 85


"I think I'm, I'm ready to try ten KPH.�

86


10 Chip sat in front of the Communications console on the Bridge. Transferring to this department had been good for him -- he was a natural-born gabber and liked the challenge of translations. Working with Hoshi was good, too, even though he mainly just worked overnight and didn't interact with her as much as he'd like. Overnight was usually quiet, but for some reason his tonsils were a little swollen. Nothing much, nothing to get worked up about, just a little sore. A little less conversation, a little more action, he thought to himself, and dismissed his concerns as nothing. =/\= For her part, Hoshi was getting ready for shift. Her PADD chimed. It was another note from An. Hmm. It said, "I know we 87


didn't spend a lot of time together before, but I hope we can now. I've gotten ahead in the class so I'll have the time, if you're still willing. See you at breakfast." =/\= Phlox was fit to be tied. The Nereid Medical Academy students filed in after breakfast, all but Pamela. She finally ran in, a little late. He cleared his throat. "I am, I am disappointed." he began. "I'm sorry I'm late." she said. "It's not because of that." he stated. "Ladies and gentlemen, the entire Immunology text has been erased. It's a clean erasure, with no traces." Everyone looked around at each other, but said nothing. Phlox continued, "I am forced to conclude that one or more of you may be cheating. It is, this is not a pleasant conclusion for me to draw. I don't like this. But I cannot see anyone else with a motive to do such a thing." he paused for a breath. "Since this can be done from outside of Sick Bay, you do not have an alibi if you were not in Sick Bay. And I dislike talk of alibis and motives. I am in Sick Bay by myself a lot. Come to me privately and I will, I will see about having the, the perpetrator fail the class but not lose his or her place at the school. This is my only offer in this matter. If the rotation finishes and the perpetrator has not been found out, your regular instructor will be informed. And I suspect that you will all be suspended. So it would behoove the innocent to implicate the wrongdoer, and for the wrongdoer -- if he or she has any sense of justice or fair play -- to own up 88


to what they have done. We will only have lab today. I will not be lecturing. This is tiresome and I don't have the time or the taste for such antics. That is all." The students just looked around at each other. "Doctor, I'm, I'm sorry that this is happening." Mark said. Phlox just glared at him and went to tend to his animals, leaving the five of them alone. "Whoever did this, you are really screwing it up for the rest of us." said An. "Maybe someone isn't doing so well." Blair said. "You could have come to any of us. C'mon, we're all friends here. It didn't have to come to this." "This is gonna be harsh, no matter what." Pamela pointed out. "Whoever you are, you can either take less harsh or really harsh, and drag everybody down with you. I know not everyone likes me, but I bet you all like Blair. That's all I'm gonna say about it." She went over to tend to her dish of West Nile virus. "You think you can trust people." Will said, shaking his head. "You are not gonna screw up my career." Mark said, opening up his PADD and busying himself with checking notes. The discussion was, effectively, closed. =/\= Deborah Haddon stood at attention on the Bridge. It had been beastly hot there for days. She broke attention for a moment. Security was an easy enough detail 89


intellectually, but there was a lot of physical to go with it. And standing at attention all the time was not necessarily good for one's back. She absently scratched her hand, and then her neck. They both felt a little warm, and had small bumps on them. Allergy, she thought. Maybe there were walnuts in the chicken salad sandwich she'd had for yesterday's lunch. Yeah. That had to be it. A little itchy, a little bumpy. Hardly worth getting riled up about. =/\= Dinner. It was Taco Night. Malcolm sat with Pamela and Tripp. Hoshi came over and sat with them as well. "Did you try the guacamole?" Hoshi asked. "It's good, a little more lime-y than usual." "Limey." Malcolm smiled a little. "Is it made with avocado?" Pamela looked at him, catching the reference immediately. "Of course it is." Tripp said. "It's about the only way I'll eat avocado." he admitted. Pamela could not contain herself and laughed a little, almost losing her food in the process. Malcolm coughed a bit. She said, "Are you allergic to avocado, Reed?" "Maybe a little." he said, chuckling along with her. "What's so funny about an avocado?" asked Hoshi. 90


"Oh, uh, nothing." Malcolm said, but he was fighting not to squeeze out tears as he laughed. "It's a, a funny word." Pamela said. "All words with hard Cs are funny." "Copper isn't a funny word." Tripp said. "No, I, uh, I guess not." Malcolm said, sobering himself for a second. "But avocado just, just is." "Kids today, eh?" Tripp said, getting back to his taco. =/\= "Thank you for the replacement unit." Phlox said to Dr. Keating-Fong. "Oh, no trouble. Do you know why the unit was wiped?" "I have ideas." he said. "As do I." she said. "The implication is fairly clear, assuming there's no interference from elsewhere." "Yes. I don't care for this part of the teaching experience." he confessed. "Me neither. But it happens sometimes. This is a pilot program and it was very competitive to get into it. Grades have to remain high for a student to stay. I already had one student drop out due to poor grades. I do wish whoever it was would have come to me! And I agree with your plan of action. I don't want to drum them all out, but we have to take this sort of thing seriously. Thank you for being the point person for that. Keating-Fong out." Phlox closed the connection and went to his PADD. He 91


clicked on the Medical Database. Crewman Delacroix had complained about back spasms a few weeks previously. Perhaps there was something else he could try, as the Crewman wasn't saying anything but still appeared to be suffering. Phlox clicked and clicked again. This was not good. The entire Orthopedics section of the Medical Database was gone, as thoroughly wiped as the Immunology text. =/\= "And it's so warm in Sick Bay." Pamela said. "Stifling! I guess the animals like it. Or Phlox does. I don't know." "The Bridge has been warm, too." Hoshi said. "Engineering's like an oven." Tripp commiserated. "Oh, I hadn't noticed." Malcolm said. He leaned over and whispered to Pamela, "I've been close to another heat source." She just smiled at him, the broadest smile he'd seen so far. "We should, uh, we should go." he said. "Are you finished?" She nodded and he escorted her out of the cafeteria. Once they had been walking in the hallway a bit, she said, "Hang on, I need to stop by quarters, get a few things." He followed her over. Blair and Will were in there already, but they weren't interrupting anything. Blair and Pamela busied themselves in the small bathroom. Will looked at Malcolm. "You're the Armory Officer, 92


right?" "Yes." Malcolm said. "Oh." In the bathroom, Blair said to Pamela, "So, serious, are we?" "Not telling you." "Oh, c'mon. Will wants me to meet his mother. Er, Mum. Gawd." "So are you gonna do it?" asked Pamela, grabbing some toiletries. "I suppose I will. I guess I have to. You think you'll ever meet the Brit's Mum?" "Me, ha, no. I'm not the girl they take home to Mother. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta get some stuff." "Pamela," Blair said, serious for a moment, "if you're the cheater, you should really come clean." "It ain't me, babe." Pamela left the bathroom and went to rummage through her top drawer. She had a colorful handful of stuff when she closed the drawer, and then grabbed her PADD. "Ready?" she asked Malcolm. "Yes. See you, see you later." he said to Will as they departed. =/\= Aidan MacKenzie grabbed a cold shower. He was toweling off, and started sweating again. Rather than dry off, he just went back in and showered again, turning the water on as cold as possible, needles stinging his flesh. It was probably something with the 93


water heating system, he figured. =/\= Once in Malcolm's quarters, Pamela presented her treasures. "I was thinking. To put the pedal to the metal a little bit. I have ... toys." "Toys?" Malcolm gulped. "Yes. But I can see where they might be of concern to you, at least at the beginning. So I just brought these." She laid out four silk scarves on Malcolm's desk. "These are toys? I, I saw you wearing the green one two days ago, Sweetheart." "Oh, they're used for regular purposes, too. Good little multi-taskers, they are. But tonight, we'll use them for something else." she paused. "Hmm. No posts to the bed. I wonder where I could tie these." "Oh." The light dawned. "You would, or I would, uh, be tied, uh spread eagle, as it were?" "Yes. But this bed of yours has nothing I can tie a scarf to. Not even a headboard." "It's a good thing there's no headboard, as one of us would be concussed by now." he said. "That's true." she said, smiling. "Hmm. Well, hands can still be tied together. And so can ankles." "I see you're talking about my ankles, and not yours. It would defeat the purpose for your ankles to be bound together." he said. "Yes. So here's the idea. I can tie your wrists together and then tie your ankles together. Do with you what I 94


like." she said. "Tease you. Make you wait. A lot." "Or." he said, taking his shirt off. "You can bind my wrists and my ankles and then," he took the green scarf and put it around her waist while kissing her neck, "hmm, tie the ends of this one to the remaining scarf and we could bind ourselves together, waist to waist. I'd have to, um, stay in longer than usual. And I'd pin you down. I'd be your prisoner and you'd, you'd be mine." "Huh, let's see how that would work." she said, tying the green scarf to a purple one. "Good thing you have a small waist. A six-pack, for gosh sakes. Very nice." "Well, I work at it." he said, kissing her deeply. "I have a lot of motivation now." "I guess you do have some." she smiled and then indicated the tied-together scarves. "These will be ... long enough." she flashed her eyes downwards for a second. "Good." he said, removing her top. She stripped out of the rest of her clothes and he did so as well. His breath caught when he saw her completely nude. "That never gets dull." "That's the idea." she said. "Now give me your wrists, together like this." she demonstrated. "Not too tight. If there's an emergency, I do have to be able to, uh, spring into action immediately." "I see things are already springing." she said, checking out how aroused he was. "Sit down, I'll get your ankles." He did as asked. "This is, I never thought of such things as thrilling. I never, I never thought of them at all, to be 95


perfectly frank." "Well, they are lots and lots of fun. Now, scootch back a bit. There, that's good. First, a little foreplay." She leaned over him and pushed his bound hands up above his head so that he couldn't use his hands, only his mouth. He made contact with whatever she gave him -- breast, thigh, scar, waist, anything. It hurt a bit to keep his arms up for that long, but he was so busy with pleasing her, he barely noticed. When she'd climaxed, she grabbed the two tiedtogether scarves and bound their waists together, then, with no warning, impaled herself on him. All semblance of coherence was gone, he just made a sound, kind of an animal sound. He brought his hands down and enveloped her shoulders and rolled her onto her back. It was not easy. Legs together was not a great way to get leverage, and with his hands close and his shoulders cramping he found himself slipping a little as he pushed, but it was still thrilling, to be restricted while still giving themselves over to the feeling. She wrapped her ankles around his back and that got him even higher, kissing and sucking on her neck, sweat flying. Being a little uncomfortable delayed climax for him, and he was almost a detached observer, watching and feeling her climax two more times before he did. When he was done, he stayed where he was and felt her quivering and kept kissing her over and over again. He was just about ready to start really pushing again in earnest when he heard a communications chime. He shook himself out of his reverie. "I, Pamela, that's an 96


emergency chime, Darling." "Oh, yeah. I guess it is. Here, let me help you." she unbound his wrists after he'd rolled off her. He untied his ankles. He sat up. "Huh. It's not mine. It's yours." he said. "Hmm." she checked. "Visual message." He got a tee shirt out of his top drawer. She put it on; it was tight across the bust. "I'm gonna stretch this out." she said. She opened the message. It was Dr. Keating-Fong. "Pamela, I'm sorry to be calling you in the middle of the night." "That's okay. What's up?" "I got news from Vermont. Your father is in late stage renal failure. He probably won't survive the week. If you wish to go back to Earth, the Ti'Mur can pick you up." "No, that's okay." Pamela said. "I'd, I'd rather work." "Work?" "Yes. I want to keep my mind off things." "But Pamela, this is your father I'm talking about!" Dr. Keating-Fong exclaimed. "It's better this way. Really. My family will, will understand. And thanks for letting me know. Hudson out." She turned off the PADD and turned to Malcolm. "Do you have any alcohol?" "Uh, no. And I hardly think that medicating your grief with alcohol is such a good idea, Sweetheart." "No, no, it's not grief." 97


"Not grief?" "No. It's celebrating." =/\= Porthos shivered in the chilly air as Jonathan rolled over in bed. The dog jumped on the bed and Jonathan ordered him off. "Too hot tonight, Buddy." =/\= "Celebrating his life?" "No. His death." She looked far away. "Tell, tell me only what you, what you wish to." Malcolm said, sitting next to her on the bed and rubbing his shoulder a little. It ached a bit. She smiled wanly. "I didn't want to mention this at all, but circumstances are kinda forcing my hand, I guess." "Well, only share what's comfortable. It's, it's all right if it's not everything. I can, I can wait." "Thanks. I, uh, well, what was your childhood like?" "My childhood? Regular, I suppose." Malcolm said. "I was an Eagle Scout. Thought I'd be a naval officer but the water and me, we don't mix together too well." "I mean more personal stuff." "Oh, well, my sister and I didn't always get on, but that's how siblings are. My parents were removed, somewhat hands off in a lot of ways. I suppose that's made me a bit standoffish. Except with you." he said, taking her hand. "Mine was different." she said, and had that faraway 98


look in her eyes again. "How, how so?" "My parents were, were very hands on. Too hands on." she stopped and dropped his hand. "I don't know how to continue. I, I haven't told anyone this." "Don't force out any more than you wish to say." "I should say it." she replied. "I have to say it to someone." "I'd like to think I'm not just someone." "No." she said, a little distractedly. "Remember you said that I'm afraid of people who love me?" "Yes. I was not being fair and hit you a bit below the belt there. Please forgive me." "No. You're, you're right. Do you remember I told you that I know why I am the way I am?" "Yes, of course." "It's all related." "How?" he asked. She put two fingers into the inner corners of her eyes and he could see her flick away the tiniest of tears. "Oh, Darling." he said, and put his arm around her. "Don't say any more than you wish." She got up and tossed off the tee shirt. "It's, it's this." she began pacing and working herself up. "I have to, I have to shout this, because, well, because this has been quiet for too long and it needs to be shouted." "These walls are soundproof. Shout all you like. I'll 99


shout with you if it helps." he got up, too. "Hands on isn't the half of it." her voice was rising and she was starting to cry a bit. He moved closer but she pushed him back. "It's not even one tenth of it." "What is it?" he called to her, loudly. "I told you my first encounter was when I was fifteen. That's not strictly true." "Then what is the truth?" he yelled. "It was before. It was long before. It ... was ... my father." Malcolm snapped his neck back. "What?" he asked, much more quietly. "Yes." she was shaking and crying and screaming. "My father. He beat me and he raped me and he did it for years. It started when I was, I was five years old." "And your, your mother?" Malcolm tried to touch her but she eluded him again. "My mother watched." she said, spitting out the last word as if it were poison. "And, and, and I have no idea why, but they didn't do it to my sister, Lisa. Why did they, why did they do it to me? Why?" This time she let him hold her, but only for a minute. "It's so damned hot in here." she sobbed out. "And you don't, you don't know. And you don't, you don't, you don't deserve this." "Pamela." he said very softly, barely audibly. "I am in for a penny, in for a pound. The, the knave is here." "I'm no Queen." 100


"You are to me."

101


11 "Ensign Mayweather, you're early." T'Pol said. It was very early. "I couldn't sleep, Commander. Too hot." "The ambient temperature is 10 C." she shivered a little. He sneezed, then again. "Ensign, I suspect you're coming down with something. You should go to Sick Bay." she suggested. "No, I'm, I'm, atchoo! I'm all right." Travis sneezed six more times. "Ensign, go to Sick Bay. That's an order." =/\= "Reed, I, I told you that I say things too quickly. And you do, too." Pamela said. 102


"I suppose I do." he admitted. "I just, I feel so much with you. And I don't mean the physicality of it although that is certainly a part of it. It's everything. Come, come here, Sweetheart." he shivered a little in the chill. "It's, it's too hot." "You're always hot, my dear." "No, I'm really hot." she complained. "Can you turn the temperature down a little?" "Sure. But I'll need to put something on. This is far too chilly for me." "Something that isn't a part of a uniform." she said. "Those uniforms don't show anything off. Something casual. You do have casual clothing, don't you, Malcolm?" "Of course." he put on a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeved tee. "How's this?" he asked, smiling at her a little. "It's good." she said. "And you say you're not a goodlooking man, but you are, Malcolm Reed." "Thank you, love." "There you go again." "Well, I just, I think, given what we've said to one another, particularly this evening ...." his voice trailed off. "And? And isn't it, well, wishful thinking?" 103


"Perhaps. But, well, these are the kinds of things that people who love each other say, and these are the kinds of things that they, that they do." "You want very badly for it to happen, don't you?" "Yes. Do you want it to be, to be love? Do you want that at all, Pamela?" "I don't know. It's all wrapped up in terror for me. And you already know how my sexuality played out, all bound up with, with what started up almost thirty years ago. The two are wedded now, and I can't break them apart." she admitted. "I also know that I shouldn't be treating you like a therapist. I never should have told you that. I feel naked." "You are naked, Darling." "You know what I mean, Reed." "I know. Maybe it is too quick. We leapt into bed as if the world were ending. And it's not. I should have, should have courted you. More than just a sonnet or two. Spent time with you, got to know you well." "And now you know too much about me. You've got steps one and two and eighty-seven of the formula, and they don't all fit together properly." "That's true." he said. =/\= Chip stared "Commander?"

at

the

Communications

console.

"Yes Mr. Masterson?" "I don't think we have long-range communications." 104


"Have you performed a diagnostic?" "Two." "I'll contact the Captain." she did. =/\= "Pamela?" "Yes?" "Can we, can we set step eighty-seven aside? Warp factor ten, as it were. And perhaps not revisit five KPH but still go back a bit?" "Well ..." "I still want to be with you. I still want to talk to you and kiss you, make love to you and share my breakfast with you. And I still want to see you after, after you leave. If that's at all possible." "That's not step two, yanno." "I know. Perhaps it is irrevocably altered. It's a new path. Can't we tread it together?" "Don't push it." "I'm sorry." "No, I'm not being fair. Let me, let me mull it over." she said, then changed the subject. "Yanno, we are -- the class -- we're gonna cook dinner tonight. It’s a special surprise for the crew." "Oh?" "I make cheesecake. The cheesecake makes the cheesecake."

105


"Oh." "You don't like cheesecake?" "I'll, uh, I'll be all right with it." he said. "It's the only thing I know how to make. Blair's the domestic one. She's making pot roast. Don't tell anyone." "My lips are sealed. Pamela?" "Hmm?" "About the other thing?" "I'm mulling. You are ... you're a good person. And I am riddled with imperfections, through and through." "They don't scare me, any more than you having a scar on your thigh -- or my knowing how you got it -- scares me." "We wouldn't see each other much." "I know." "I don't do good with distance." she said. "Or loyalty. I get tempted way too easily if I'm not careful." "I, we'll, we'll cross those bridges when we get to them." "You're being very submissive, Reed. You've mostly been submissive. When are you, when are you going to be, to be dominant?" =/\= Phlox looked at the records again. There were cascade failures throughout the Medical Database. He barely had the chemical formula for aspirin any more. =/\= 106


"Dominant?" "Yes. You've even set yourself up as the knave, with me as the Queen. That's complete submission on your part. Is that how you want things to be? I can, I can do that. But I've told you I prefer the trading." "Then I wish to be dominant right now." "Now?" "Yes." he said, approaching her. "I want to call the shots, for the remainder of tonight." "Oh?" she said, getting interested and meeting him halfway. "I want to make love to you. Not have hot sex, but make love. And not with scarves or toys or your fingernails raking my back. No teasing, no hair pulling. No clothes on, none of this just lifting up your skirt business. No odd positions. Facing each other the entire time, so that we can kiss and look and breathe together as one." He put his hand on her face. "Soft, but also hard." He smiled a little. "Gentle. Careful. With sweet kisses and caressing hands. That is what I want -- it's what I demand of you. Can you do that?" He looked deep into her eyes. She looked fearful. "Y-yes. I think I can remember how to do that." He kissed her softly on her mouth. "Good." He kissed her deeply, hands lightly holding her waist, then moving up to touch her breasts. She led him over to the bed. "First this." She took off his sweatpants and shirt, then bent over him. "You, you want to do that?" he asked. "Most, most 107


women I've been with, they don't like doing that unless it's, it's reciprocal." "It's a, a gentle way for you to dominate." she said, then getting down to it. Malcolm was jolted. It was quick but very intense. She definitely knew what she was doing. "Would you kiss me, knowing where my mouth's just been?" she asked. "Yes." he said, doing just that. He was becoming aroused again. She smiled at him, a freer smile than he'd seen before. "Not every guy likes doing that, tasting himself that way." "I wouldn't exactly recommend it." he said, laughing a little bit. "But the whole thing is, I think it was a generous act. You can, you are capable of generosity, you know." "I guess I am a little bit." she said. "Doesn't mean I don't like when you do it to me." "Your wish isn't my command." he said. "But it would be my pleasure." =/\= Hoshi was up early. Her PADD was flashing. Another note from An. "No breakfast today, sorry. I don't have an appetite." It said. She coughed a little. Damn. =/\= 108


When they finally did merge, it was as he'd wanted. Slow. Careful. Deliberate. She was hotly sweating while he was coolly caressing and kissing, but he still felt every catch of her breath, every quiver, every change. She rolled on top of him, and he was able to kiss her repeatedly as they pushed together, and watch her as she climaxed, her mouth open and then as she was biting her lower lip to keep quiet. "Let it out." he finally whispered, and she moaned loudly. She had always been so quiet -- enjoying herself but silent as a church mouse. This time, though, she made hmming noises and even chuckled a little bit. Not laughing at him, but at the overstimulus, and a little at the absurdity of it all. He kissed her smiles, meeting her laughter with his movements, rolling her back onto her back for the final assault. Mouth on her shoulder, then her breast, then back to her mouth. She took her hands away from his waist and put them onto his face, kissing him, breathing into his mouth, moaning into his mouth as climax happened for her, and then for him. =/\= Brian Delacroix walked out into the hallway, making his way along the wall. He was dizzy. The ship was moving too fast. He put his hands up to his face. Felt bumpy. A little like the skin of an avocado. Ensign Crossman saw him. He knew her. He approached her. She took one look at his face and screamed. =/\= They finally broke apart. Malcolm smiled at her. "Now that was Warp Factor Ten." he said. 109


"Yes." she said. "Very hot." He shivered a little, despite their closeness. He kissed her. She was very sweaty, and coughed a little. "Darling, you're warmer than usual." "Yes." she said. "I -- Reed, feel my forehead. And the back of my neck." He complied. "How hot?" "Very. More hot than you normally feel." "I -- dammit. I've got a fever." she said, breaking apart from him. "Feels like it's climbing." "Let's get you to Sick Bay." he said. "I can go by myself." "I know. But I would not be a very good, uh, boyfriend, if I didn't take you, now, would I?" "Boyfriend." she said, putting her skirt back on. "Makes it sound like you're fifteen." "Maybe this time 'round, fifteen will turn out a bit differently." He said, putting on his uniform this time. He looked at her with concern. "I'll be all right. It's probably nothing." she said. =/\= Jonathan got up. There was a communications chime 110


but he could barely hear it. His head was pounding. Porthos was whining. "Not now, boy." He said, leaving the dog in his quarters and heading out. The Bridge would have to wait. He had a date with Sick Bay. =/\= Malcolm took Pamela by the hand and led her into B Deck's hall. The hallway was already crowded with people, all moving slowly. They all seemed to be going in the same direction. MacKenzie was leaning against a wall, stopped. Blair looked red-faced. Will, next to her, was sneezing. Mark Stone was scratching his arms, his hands covered with bumps. "Let's go more quickly." Malcolm said, pulling Pamela along. "Not so fast. I'm kinda nauseous." she said. As if on cue, Crewman Shapiro vomited in front of them. Malcolm blinked a few times and steered her around the mess. "We need to go faster, Pamela. I will help you." He put his arm around her and she was pretty much a dead weight, stepping down only a little bit as he walked as quickly as he could. =/\= Crewman Haddon left her post. She got into the lift and somehow got herself back to C Deck and her quarters. She took one look at herself in her bathroom mirror, and shrieked. =/\= Sick Bay was already crowded. Phlox already had 111


Hoshi, An and Travis on beds when Pamela and Malcolm arrived. "Put her, uh, there." Phlox said, indicating an empty bed. He was a whirling dervish. "There are others, doctor. You'll be out of beds soon." Malcolm said. "Get in ten more. We'll double them up." Phlox said. "All right." Malcolm said. He turned to Pamela, lying on a bed. "I love you." he said. She smiled at him weakly. "See what happens when you get demanding?" she whispered. He kissed her forehead. "Still nauseous?" "Yes. And you shouldn't kiss me. You'll catch whatever the hell this is." "I think I've already been exposed." "We've both been exposed." she said. "You'll be all right. I'll have your cheesecake yet." "Don't count on it." He took one last look and left to bring in more patients. =/\= Jonathan staggered along the wall, hugging it. That seemed to help a little bit, but why was it so damned hot? =/\= Malcolm brought along Blair next, and set her on the bed next to Pamela. 112


"Strap them in." Phlox said. "Don't want anyone falling off a narrow bed." Malcolm did as requested. "Henry!" Pamela said weakly. "I told you not to do that." "It's not Henry, Darling." he said. "Oh. Well, um." she said. Blair just stared at him as he adjusted a strap under her bust. "Reed," Pamela said. "Yes, Sweetheart?" "Avocado." =/\= By the time the beds were filled, and Malcolm had gotten a chance to take a breath, a good hour or so had gone by. Phlox looked at him. "You seem to be unaffected so far. Perhaps there are others." He went back to tending patients. Malcolm clicked open his communicator. "Reed to, to, well, to anyone. Anyone at all." "Go ahead." It was Commander T'Pol. "Oh, thank God. Commander, is there, is everything all right on the Bridge?" "No, it isn't." T'Pol's voice had a very slight edge to it. "The crew have either abandoned their posts or collapsed." 113


"We don't have enough beds." Phlox said. "There are quarters on this deck. And, and on C Deck. We -- I suppose I -- can put people in there. Double them up like in here. Would that be acceptable?" "It'll have to do. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll need to prepare a solution of potassium carbonite." "Is it a cure?" Malcolm asked. "No. It's to put everyone into stasis while I figure this out. I'll make a dose for you as well, when you need it. Your delayed onset is interesting but I cannot pursue it now." He went back to what he'd been doing. Malcolm spoke into the communicator again. "Commander, can you stop the ship and put it adrift for a bit?" "I have already had to do that." she replied. "Good. Then, please, come here. I'll need your help. We need to move a lot of people, and quickly." "On my way."

114


12 Phlox gave them each twenty shots' worth of potassium carbonite to carry with them in bags. "We should indicate, somehow, as to which member of the crew is in which room." T'Pol said. "A list." Malcolm said. "But it would be better if the rooms were somehow marked as well." "Over there." Phlox said, giving An a shot of potassium carbonite. "Take that box with you." "Chalk." Malcolm said. "I think they did this in the Middle Ages when there were plagues. Some small memory of hist'ry." "Come back when you're out of shots and I'll give you refills." Phlox said. "Act quickly. And be sure to indicate if any are more advanced. Crewman Melissa Madden over there seems to be particularly affected." She had 115


dark bumps all over her face and arms and was sharing a surgical bed that had been pressed into service. Her bedmate, Ensign MacKenzie, seemed less afflicted. Malcolm and T'Pol left. "Let's leave the closest room open." Malcolm suggested. "For the Captain." "And for you, Mr. Reed." she replied. "Here, help me with Mr. Masterson." Then Crossman. Malcolm marked on the door: Masterson, Crossman. They moved on. Shapiro, Donnelly. Pike, Delacroix (A). It was 'A' for Advanced. T'Pol tapped out notes as they proceeded. "I'm out of inoculations." Malcolm said. "How many have we got so far?" "Eighteen women. Twenty-two men." T'Pol said. "Plus in Sick Bay there are six men and four women. Keep in mind that there are three male medical students and two females. Plus you." "So," Reed did a quick calculation in his head. "Sixteen human women remain, and, and thirty-two men. We'll have to go back for more inoculations twice. This deck is nearly full. We'll need to move to C Deck soon." "Agreed." she said. They ran back to Sick Bay together. "Have you located Captain Archer yet?" Phlox asked, preparing more shots. "No." T'Pol said. "We've only been clearing this deck so 116


far." "Proceed." Dr. Phlox said. "Right now, I don't know what's a priority. Just, just do what you can." "Understood." Malcolm said as they departed. They found Captain Archer collapsed in front of the lift. "Come along, Captain." Malcolm said, throwing his arm around Jonathan's waist. "T'Pol, other side, if you please." They slowly walked the Captain over but he was dead weight. "Wait, let's try it this way." Malcolm said. "Lie him down, then we'll take arms and legs." "This is a little ... undignified." Jonathan managed to gasp out as they carried him. "You should see the other guy." Malcolm said. "Ah, here we are." They laid Jonathan down. He looked pasty pale. "T'Pol," he gasped weakly. "Take command." "Yes, Captain." she said, injecting him. "Onward to C Deck." Malcolm said. They found Crewman Haddon in her own quarters, quivering and mumbling incoherently, her face and hands covered with dark blotchy bumps. She weakly tried to fight them off. They ended up injecting her before even getting her into bed. It was just easier. Corporal Amanda Cole ended up as her bunkmate. Cole, Haddon (A). They kept going, gathered another round of shots 117


when needed and continued. They moved on until they'd cleared C Deck. "How far along are we?" Malcolm asked T'Pol, straightening up and rubbing his own back. Fireman's carries, over and over again, were not doing his back and shoulders any favors. He remembered for a second the initial reason why his shoulders were bothering him. Too much worry, thinking about Pamela, knocked out in Sick Bay. He compartmentalized it, saving the emotions for later. Best to concentrate on what he was doing. "I said, Lieutenant, fifty-eight men and thirty-six women. We are done with the women." T'Pol said. "Are you feeling well enough to continue?" "Yes. Just, just worried. I imagine the last three men are still at their posts." "Tucker. Torres." she read off the remaining names. "And Crewman Miller." "So two are probably in Engineering, and the other in the Bio Lab." Malcolm deduced. "Let's go to Engineering first." "That is a logical course of action." Tucker was found next to the warp engines. He barely protested when they carried him to a room on C Deck. He bunked with Bernstein. Bernstein, Tucker. Torres was harder to find. They finally located him behind some plasma relays. He was uncontrollably coughing. A quick shot stopped that. He was heavy, over two meters tall. After considerable grunting and sweaty 118


work, they got him to a room on C Deck. One more. Miller was not in the Bio Lab. They finally found him, passed out, in front of the big freezer in the kitchen, the freezer door wide open. He was lighter than Torres, and Malcolm could lift him by himself. One last pass, one last marker. Torres, Miller. They made their way back to Sick Bay. Phlox was sitting on a stool. He looked wan. "We'll need a plan of action." he said. "The injections of potassium carbonite aren't really full stasis. The patients will continue to worsen, albeit more slowly." Malcolm looked over at Pamela. She looked sweaty, but more like she was sleeping than anything else. A lot like she did when she slept next to him. "Is she dying?" he asked Phlox. "Lieutenant," Phlox paused for a breath, "they all are." =/\= "Doctor T'Par, can you treat her?" asked Ambassador Soval, looking at Dr. Keating-Fong, who was lying in the Ti'Mur's infirmary. "Yes, although the records are rather sparse." she said. "This is an ancient, eradicated human disease." "Eradicated? Then surely there is a cure." he said. "No. It was eradicated with prevention in either the twentieth or the twenty-first century. The records are, as I said, unclear. When the human population was completely protected by preventative injections, the 119


search for a cure was abandoned." "Still, you can cure Dr. Keating-Fong?" "Yes. I can. And reverse the skin damage as well, although that's a considerably lower priority." "Naturally. Is the doctor contagious?" "Not to Vulcans, or to any species other than human. And, not contagious any more, although she was perhaps a week ago." "That's when she was still on the Enterprise." said the Ambassador. "We must contact them immediately." =/\= "Mr. Reed. Mr. Reed." T'Pol said. "Yes. Sorry." He couldn't stop looking at Pamela. She seemed peaceful. "I'll repeat what I just said." Phlox said. "The patients have, perhaps, five days at most. The more advanced ones, more like three or four." "We'll be rendezvousing with the Ti'Mur in seven days." Malcolm said. "Unless we can get closer. Are engines still working?" "Spotty." T'Pol said. "Plus with the neutron pulsing in this area, the going may be difficult. A well-trained pilot would be best." "There's your well-trained pilot, lying over there." 120


Malcolm said, indicating Travis, knocked out with Mark Stone. "What about Communications?" Phlox asked. "I managed to get a distress call out but long-range is not working." T'Pol said. "It is difficult to say how far the message traveled." "I don't have much in the way of medical information." Phlox said. "Foolish student, someone wiped the database. Now that person's cheating ways will get them all killed." "Doctor, we will have to devise a cure from scratch." T'Pol said. "Yes. Work 'round the clock." the doctor said. "Then Mr. Reed," T'Pol said, "I hereby relinquish command to you." "Me?" "Yes. I can help Dr. Phlox much better than you can. My place is here." "Very well." Malcolm said. "But we, we won't stand on ceremony. We'll all make all of the decisions, if that's, if it's appropriate. Everyone's vote will be equal. I will work on Communications, and I'll see if I can move the ship in the direction of the Ti'Mur, and do so as quickly as possible. You both will, well, it's obvious. Medical is top priority. I will assist in any way I can, just tell me. And, and, I'll prepare and bring you your meals. It won't be anything fancy." "Then we are in agreement." T'Pol said. "And if you find yourself becoming ill, Mr. Reed, you will turn command 121


back over to me." "Yes, of course." "Roll up your sleeve." Phlox said. Malcolm did as asked. Phlox jabbed his arm with a needle. "Ow!" "A half a liter should do." Phlox said. "But if you become faint, tell me immediately." Malcolm waited as his blood was drawn. "Do you, do you have any idea why I am unaffected so far?" he asked. "None. Hopefully, your blood will tell the tale." =/\= It was a ship, coming at high warp. Erratic pathway. Heading right for them.

122


13 Malcolm rolled his sleeve back down. "Porthos!" he suddenly cried out. "Poor thing." "He'll probably be in the Captain's quarters." Phlox suggested. "Here." He handed Malcolm a shot. "Oneeighth of the human dosage of potassium carbonite. And bring him and his dog bed here. I'll put him somewhere." Malcolm ran to the Captain's quarters. =/\= "Let's begin by looking at the students' projects." Phlox said. "In case there's been any contamination. Perhaps that's the cause of all of this." T'Pol read off the labels. "Mumps. Anthrax. Herpes Simplex. Ebola. West Nile virus." Pamela's little infectious pet. "The seals all appear to be intact." 123


"Very well. Let's take samples and test them against the Lieutenant's blood. See if there are any antibodies. And also, here, let's take a sample from two patients. One advanced, one not, and see what happens when they're mixed with Reed's blood." Phlox said. T'Pol moved an IV aside and began to draw blood from Ensign MacKenzie. =/\= Malcolm got to the Captain's quarters in record time. The door was locked. "Security Override Code." he gasped. "Reed Gamma nine oh nine." The door slid open. There was a whine and a bark, and Porthos, all eleven kilos of him, wagging and wiggling and licking in doggie greeting. Malcolm bent down and petted the dog. "Thank God you're all right, little chap." he said. "Come with me." He remembered at the last minute to take the dog bed with him. Porthos trotted behind him as he walked back to Sick Bay and then changed his mind and changed course. The Bridge made more sense. He clicked open his communicator. "I have him." he said. "And he is all right." "Interesting." T'Pol said. "Mr. Reed, did you experience any symptoms?" "Symptoms?" "Yes. We suspect you had the disease that's afflicting the remainder of the crew. But you somehow recovered from it." 124


"Hmm. I felt some heat, well, I felt warm at times. But I attributed that to other things." he admitted. "Thank you. T'Pol out." Malcolm made his way to the Bridge, Porthos in tow. =/\= "Here's where it's becoming difficult." Phlox admitted. "We've tried everything we can think of, but without a database, we're down to almost random guesses." "The symptoms are flu-like in nature. Except for the dermatological issues that some of the crew are experiencing." "Any number of human diseases can manifest themselves with what are referred to as flu-like symptoms. It's almost a catchall. Coughing -- both productive and dry, sneezing, body aches, congestion, watery eyes, fever." "Most of the crew had fevers, including, possibly, Lieutenant Reed." T'Pol pointed out. "That only narrows it down to a few thousand." Phlox shook his head. "If we could throw another person at this problem, it would be a bit easier." =/\= Malcolm got to the Bridge and put the dog bed down next to the Captain's chair. He tried out the chair for a second, but it was set for someone taller than he was and, certainly, not for him. He felt strange. "No. This is wrong." he said to Porthos, who did not answer. "This belongs to your master." He then walked over to the helm. Not comfortable 125


there, either, and the readings were confusing. He managed to steady the helm and get the Enterprise going at full impulse. Warp drive seemed to be offline. It would be very slow going to get to the Ti'Mur, but at least they were moving a little bit. He went over to his station, and saw warning lights flashing just as he got there. This was not good. He clicked open his communicator. "Commander, I, I need you here. Right, right now. My apologies, Doctor." "On my way." =/\= Ambassador Soval shook his head. There seemed to be no way to reach the Enterprise. He requested that the Ti'Mur accelerate to maximum warp. =/\= T'Pol arrived quickly. "What seems to be the trouble?" "Here. I think I can get this on the screen." Malcolm fiddled with the controls at Hoshi's station. "There. Klingon Battle Cruiser. Coming in fast. Take the helm." She did as requested. "Have you a plan?" "Not really." he admitted. "Tactical is working perfectly but we can't exactly get out of the way quickly or call for help. Hull plating is polarized. Torpedoes are armed." "Can we communicate with the other vessel?" "If they come close, I believe so." "Then let's opt for a diplomatic solution if it can be achieved." she suggested. "Agreed." 126


The other ship barreled in and stopped, close. A proximity alarm was tripped. Malcolm turned it off. They hailed the Enterprise. T'Pol got the message on screen, then returned to the helm. "This is Captain Lorgh of the Imperial Klingon Battle Cruiser Somraw. Surrender and prepare to be boarded." Lorgh coughed a few times. A couple of female Klingons behind him chased after a male Klingon. Something was not right. Except for Lorgh, none of the Klingon Bridge crew appeared to be at their posts. Malcolm sprang back and cut the sound. "Now what? They won't exactly show us mercy." "A fire fight is not going to help." T'Pol stated. "And the Ti'Mur cannot get here on time. Surrender is likely to be our sole option." "There's also suicide." Malcolm said. "It's really a matter of no survivors versus, at best, three." =/\= Back on the Somraw, it was louder than usual and the crew was running wild. Lorgh had neither the stomach nor the strength to deal with it. He switched communications. "Keleth!" he yelled into the console. "You have your orders." =/\= Malcolm put the sound back on. He and T'Pol looked on the screen, and saw the Klingon Bridge filling up with a sand-colored gas. Klingons were falling all over the Bridge -- Lorgh included. The screen switched to a scene of a sole Klingon, an elderly male. He said, 127


menacingly, "This is Keleth of the Imperial Klingon Battle Cruiser Somraw. Surrender and prepare to be -oh, to Stovokor with it." His tone changed, and was quieter. "I am Chief Medical Officer Keleth. Your Bridge is nearly empty. You must have the disease as well." =/\= Phlox titrated samples and tallied up his notes as he went along. It was respiratory, sort of. Dermatological, kind of. Definitely a virus and not a bacterium. Reed's blood was no cure, although it did kill the virus when the two were mixed in a controlled experiment. But that didn't work in a test subject, and besides, Reed had B positive blood. Even if his blood did work, it still couldn't mix with that of over half of the crew. He kept working. =/\= "Perhaps." T'Pol answered. "It is ... it causes a kind of madness. Somewhat like Balt'Masor Syndrome but not exactly. My Medical Database is nearly completely gone; I have little to compare it to. Can you -- it is not our way, but our way is going to mean a dishonorable death to all -- can you assist? It is of honor for me to ply my trade and do all I can to save my shipmates." Keleth said. "We will consider it." she replied. "Stand by." she broke the communications link. "Consider it?" Malcolm asked. "What's there to consider?" "Those people are dying, just like our people are." "They're Klingons!" he said. "And we're supposed to 128


find them a cure while Pa-- everyone here is so terribly ill?" "An additional medical officer would be of help to Dr. Phlox and myself." T'Pol said. "If they weren't sick, they'd be firing upon us!" "I -- no -- that does not fit in with Klingon logic. Klingons value honor above all else. They would consider it dishonorable to simply run roughshod over a ship full of dying people unable to defend themselves properly." "I'm in command, and I say not to cooperate with them." "Mr. Reed. By your own statement, you have said that we will share in the decision-making. Does that remain your intention? Or have the rules changed?" she asked. "I -- we'll, we'll vote on it. Let's call Phlox." They explained the situation. "I don't see an alternative." Phlox said. "Particularly since you were seriously considering surrender before this. It troubles me that perhaps the Klingon disease is transmissible to any of us, but I have my doubts about that. The physiology is simply too different, which is also why this human infection has not jumped to either Commander T'Pol or myself. Plus that ship seems to still have warp drive, albeit no one here can read Klingon or pilot such a vessel. It still may be of use. I say we cooperate. Now, if you'll excuse me. Phlox out." "Well, I don't like it." Malcolm said. "Your objection is duly noted." T'Pol replied. "But we cannot make this decision based upon emotions." 129


Reluctantly, he reopened the channel. "This is Reed to Keleth. I -- we -- we will share whatever we know. It, it isn't much. And we don't believe it's the same affliction." "Probably not." Keleth allowed. "Human, I am curious. You are on a human vessel. Yet you are unafflicted. I presume you are the only one of your species who is. Do you know why that is so?" "No." Malcolm said. "I could say the same for you." "Ah, I am easy to explain. I have been locked into Sick Bay Quarantine for two days. I got in here just as the malady was beginning to affect the crew. My captain ordered me here for the duration. And now it is the duration and I am in here and they are all out there." His voice had an edge of desperation to it. "Can you explain the gas?" T'Pol asked. "Ah, Tricoulamine in vapor form." "Tricoulamine?" she asked. "That's a nerve toxin." "Not to Klingons." he explained. "It is a means of creating a close approximation of stasis. But it would affect me as well. I would pass out, too, if I went outside of Quarantine without a pressure suit. I am trapped in here. It is not a good way to die." "I see." she said. "Even our food animals are knocked out." Keleth added. "A Klingon ship this quiet is not -- it is not something I had ever thought I would experience." He sighed a little. Malcolm cut the sound again. "I suspect he hasn't eaten in a few days." "You are most likely correct." 130


"I -- we would not be able to watch him constantly. I would still have to be here." "True." she said. "But another medical brain tackling the problem would be a major form of assistance. Not to mention a gesture of extreme good faith." "Let's ask Phlox." he clicked open his personal communicator. "Doctor, how do you feel about a little company?"

131


14 "I said, Doctor, fancy a spot of company?" Malcolm asked. "I, it is one thing to communicate from ship to ship. But bringing the Klingon doctor here? It is unprecedented." Phlox said. "Doctor, would you feel comfortable diagnosing and treating patients you hadn't seen in person?" T'Pol asked. "I don't suppose I would." "I also feel uncomfortable about this." Malcolm admitted. "But I'm not certain what else can be done. It is also a chance to, to show our humanity." T'Pol looked at him. "And, and, uh, our Vulcanness and, uh, Denobulan, uh, -ness." Malcolm hastily added. 132


"What about simply exchanging records?" Phlox inquired. "Our database is full of holes. Perhaps theirs is not, and that would be enough." "Didn't he say that they were also missing records?" Malcolm asked. "That was more or less the statement." she responded. "So it was not a cheating student." Phlox said. "Huh. I will, the situation will be uncomfortable. But I suppose it's necessary. Even to have someone else titrate would save time." "I'd escort Dr. Keleth wherever he needed to go, other than Sick Bay. Which would really only be to and from the Transporter, and perhaps to somewhere to sleep if he is here for that long." Malcolm said. "I could wear a sidearm." T'Pol offered. "We would only show the remnants of the medical database." Phlox said. "Nothing strategic." "No star charts, nothing tactical, of course." Reed added. "We'd feed him." "Klingons enjoy freshly killed meat." T'Pol pointed out. "Well. There won't be any of that." Malcolm said. "I suspect he will be less choosy after a few days of hunger." "Then we are in agreement." Phlox said. "I must admit my mind keeps changing on this. So let us act quickly, before we change our minds again." =/\= Ambassador Soval looked at an incoming news 133


transmission: Professor Edward Hudson, 71, died today at his home on Lunar Colony. Professor Hudson taught Beginning Calculus at Lunar University. He is survived by his wife of forty-three years, Linda Morgan Hudson, and his daughters, Dr. Pamela Hudson of Nereid and Lisa Hudson Schiller of Lunar Colony. Other survivors include son-in-law Robert Schiller and grandchildren Louise and Edward Schiller. Services will be private. The family requests donations to the Lunar Charitable Trust in lieu of flowers. =/\= Keleth got himself into a pressure suit. It was not easy -- he was an old man and had no one to help him. Cautiously -- even though he knew he'd be protected from the Tricoulamine gas -- he ventured outside of Sick Bay Quarantine. He sighed and shook his head as he downloaded the remains of his medical information onto a Klingon PADD. He then took blood samples from Lorgh and Lorgh's woman, Legeis. He got to the Somraw's Transporter room. "I do not wish to be walking into a human trap." he sighed to himself. "I am too old for such things, and too foolish." He made contact with the Enterprise. "I am ready." =/\= T'Pol worked the Transporter's controls while Malcolm stood by, phase rifle cocked and ready. As soon as Keleth materialized, he pointed the rifle at the Klingon's head. 134


"I -- oh, human." Keleth said, taking off the helmet of his pressure suit. "I would be a foolish Klingon indeed to not only come here but to also come armed and ready to do damage." He shook his head. "You must understand that we cannot trust you." T'Pol said. "And you should not." Keleth agreed. "And I should not trust you. Yet here we are. There are patients, yes? We must go to them. Unless they are lying on the floors nearby." T'Pol raised an eyebrow while Malcolm escorted Keleth along. Malcolm never put his weapon down. Sick Bay was close by. "Ah, our guest." Phlox said. "I have numerous samples to titrate, over there. You can get started." "I am not a laboratory lackey." Keleth said. "I am a trained physician. Having me perform little more than clerical work is a poor use of my time and skills." "Indeed." T'Pol said. "I'd best go back to the Bridge." Malcolm said. "Keep an eye out." He said to T'Pol quietly. "I am neither agile nor wily, not anymore." Keleth said. "Human, you are the pilot?" "No, I am the Armory Officer." "Oh. Well that explains the overabundance of caution. For a species that has burned Klingon cities and killed our children, you are suddenly vulnerable, and it makes you uncomfortable." 135


"Burn cities? Kill children? Is that what you think we are?" Malcolm was becoming incensed. "I have seen casualties." "And what of you? Your way is to shoot first and ask questions later. All manner of massacres in the name of some warped sense of honor." Malcolm seethed. Keleth was too close to where Blair and Pamela were lying. He wasn't thinking straight. "Gentlemen!" T'Pol called out. They looked at her, but it was Phlox who interjected, "Our time is short, for both species. Let's leave the arguments to another day." "Human?" "I have a name. It's Reed. You can call me Mr. Reed." "Reed, then. Do you have different characteristics than the other humans? Some reason why you would have a natural immunity?" Malcolm softened his demeanor a little. "I, I don't know." "Doctor Phlox," Keleth said, "you will run your Sick Bay as you wish -- as I run my own. But rather than have me endlessly titrate samples, I think it would be best if I were to study this one, find out why he is different." "That's a good plan of attack." Phlox said. "Commander, 136


you and I will continue testing and retesting against any drugs we've got and any disease patterns we can collectively remember." "I believe we were going to look at Measles next." she replied. "I'll be on the Bridge. Ask me, ask me what you like but I've got to spend my time now making sure that our two ships don't knock into each other." =/\= Dr. Keating-Fong happened?"

was

waking

up.

"Wh-what

"You've been very ill." Ambassador Soval said to her. "But you are improving now." "Oh, good. Oh my God, the students!" "We are going as quickly as we can. But it will be about a week before we arrive, even at maximum warp." "If I'm recovering from what I think I had," she said, looking at the bumps on her hands, "that won't be soon enough." =/\= It was supper time. Malcolm had picked out leftovers from the kitchen. Salad for T'Pol. Pizza for everyone else. Porthos eagerly followed behind on his errand. He brought it all over to Sick Bay and set it down on a counter. "Thank you, Lieutenant." Phlox said, grabbing a slice. "Ah, and you remembered." Keleth said, looking down at Porthos. 137


"Re-remembered?" Malcolm asked. "Yes, although it's small. Do they make good eating?" "Dr. Keleth, that is the Captain's pet." T'Pol said. "He is not to be eaten." "Huh. Well, I don't see how anyone can eat things that are so, so processed." Keleth said. "This has smells of, of I don't know." He brought a slice to his face and inhaled, making a face. "Oregano, I'd say." Malcolm explained. "We're not exactly equipped to serve fine Klingon cuisine." "Still, I am hungry." Keleth admitted. He cringed and took a bite. "Salty. These round things are very salty." "Those are pepperoni slices." Phlox said. Malcolm busied himself with scraping the cheese off his slice. "Human! I mean, Reed. Why do you do that?" "I have, it's a condition called Lactose Intolerance." Malcolm said. "I can't digest dairy products." "Dairy. You drink the milk of other species?" "Yes, and they make products from it as well. Cheese, which is what you see here, is particularly delightful." Phlox pointed out. "The Lieutenant here, his body doesn't produce enough lactase, which is an enzyme used for digesting dairy." "Is that a common affliction?" asked Keleth. "No, it isn't." Phlox said. "He is ... the only one on the ship."

138


Malcolm sat up straighter. "The doctor here gives me injections at times, to help with, with digesting dairy." "When was the last one, and what is it made of?" Keleth asked. "The evening of July ninth." Malcolm said. "I remember it because it was Hoshi's twenty-ninth birthday party." "Yes. Too much ice cream." Phlox recalled. "The injection is mainly a booster of additional lactase, in a neutral suspension medium." "When did the symptoms begin? Of the afflicted ones?" "Not sure." Malcolm said. "But I do know that the environmental controls were turned down perhaps a week ago. And today is July the twenty-fifth." "We believe that the environmental controls were tampered with because there were crew members already suffering from fevers." T'Pol stated. "So it is possibly a delayed onset." Keleth mused. "Slow build-up of symptoms, possibly something that could be explained away, for at least a while." "Well, I know that, that Pame -- uh, Dr. Hudson -- she said that she was warm sometimes, but always dismissed it as nothing. It was only the other day when it became intolerable, and then it was obvious to several others that their symptoms could no longer be ignored, I'll wager." "So what we have here is as follows: a slow onset of symptoms, most likely the first one is a fever, but it climbs slowly. Other symptoms include flushed faces, painful joints, coughing and sneezing. Coughs are not necessarily productive. Advanced cases have 139


dermatological manifestations, starting from the torso on outwards, to faces and hands. One has manifestations on the feet and ankles. Possibly some impaired judgment as well." Keleth summarized. "Reed, did you experience any of this while you were ill?" "We don't truly know whether I was ill at all. I had some feelings of being warm but they may not have been too intimately related." "No. You were ill." Keleth insisted. "The antibodies are very active. You had a very mild case and recovered, possibly within less than a day. A very slight fever could go along with that. Do you have any scars, Lieutenant?" "N-no." "Birth marks or other marks out of the ordinary?" Keleth asked. "No. Wait, that's not true. There's a mark on my hip. But I've had it for a few years." "Show me. Over there." Keleth said. Malcolm took down his uniform for a moment. The mark was small and faint, barely noticeable -- nowhere near as large or irregular as Pamela's scar. "That is small, but it might be something. Phlox, look at this." Keleth said. "Hmm." Dr. Phlox said. "It is possible." "What is it?" Malcolm asked. "It appears to be," T'Pol said, "the remnants of one of the dermatological bumps that the advanced patients have. You appear to not only have had the disease this week, but you seem to have had it a few years ago as 140


well."

141


15 Malcolm zipped his uniform back up. "I don't recall any illness like this. Nothing even close. I've had colds. I've sneezed and coughed of course, like anyone does. But it wasn’t as virulent. It, it certainly was not this kind of a malady." "Hmm." Keleth said. "Two mild cases, very, very mild. I would think -- is the hip a place where injections are made?" "It can be." Phlox said. "Then this is, I suspect, not a natural immunity at all. It's a conferred one." said the Klingon. "Conferred?" Malcolm asked. "Yes. You've received a preventative inoculation of some sort. What do you humans get for preventative 142


shots?" "Measles. Mumps. Diphtheria." Phlox said, reciting from memory. "Rotavirus. Human Papilloma, but only for women. There are more, but everyone gets the same immunizations." "Did you ever receive different immunizations?" Keleth asked. Malcolm thought for a moment. Oh, yes. That. "Doctor Phlox," Malcolm said. "Might I have a word with you in private?" "By all means." Phlox grabbed his PADD. They walked out into the hallway. "What is it?" asked Phlox. "Doctor, I cannot say much. I am bound to reveal, well, to reveal nothing. I don't relish telling you this but I think it's necessary." "Go on." "There is a -- if you look at the original Starfleet Charter, Article fourteen, you'll, you'll see what I'm talking about. Sorry to be so indirect, but I must." Phlox looked on his PADD. "Section, section. Hmmm. Section thirty-one. Is this it?" Malcolm nodded very, very slightly. "Lieutenant, we will, for the record, this conversation is not happening. Can you say anything?" "I was given some shots. More than the others got. To, 143


to protect me in the event of, of, a microbe or virus or something being, uh, becoming weaponized." "Germ warfare?" Reed nodded. "My thought is, perhaps this is a weaponized virus of some sort." "Weaponized indeed." Phlox shook his head. "With the database in shambles, this will still not be easy. Still, perhaps there are historical records. Humans stopped doing this a long time ago, yes?" "Over a century ago, I believe. Not a very pleasant or proud chapter in our hist'ry." They returned to Sick Bay. "We have a possible plan of attack. A better one." Phlox said. "I will look at historical records. Mr. Reed has been conferred certain immunities that come from, from historical medicine. I am unable to disclose more information about this." "I am all right with you not coming clean with me." Keleth said. "But her?" He indicated T'Pol. "Later, perhaps. I don't know." Phlox said. Reed shook his head. "Let's not stand on ceremony." he said. "I can look in the historical records as well, while I'm on the Bridge." T'Pol and Phlox went back to their investigation. Keleth got up and walked a lot closer to where Pamela and Blair were lying. "Human females. Hmm." Malcolm suddenly didn't want to go to the Bridge quite so quickly. "Doctor?" 144


"Oh, yes. They are too delicate. This one is getting worse, see?" he showed Malcolm where Pamela was starting to get a few bumps on the side of her face. "They, they make us better people." Malcolm said, a bit defensively. "Oh." The light dawned. Keleth said, "These are your women." "Just one of them." If she really was his. "Which one? Light skin or yellow hair?" "Y-yellow hair." "Hmmpf." Malcolm rubbed his shoulder. It did still hurt a bit. "Body aches?" Keleth asked. "No. I, I strained a muscle." Keleth looked down at Pamela. "Ah. I was young once. These are, though, a Klingon male would break them in half." "Good thing I'm not a Klingon male, then." Keleth clapped Malcolm hard, on the back and laughed a bit. Malcolm was taken a bit aback and had the wind knocked out of him. "Doctor, if you please. Let us focus and get on with, with it!" "Hu -- Reed, I think elliptically. I approach a problem, then I turn away, and I come back again from a different approach. It is -- you may disagree with the method but it does work for me." 145


Malcolm said, "I, just. I feel it's urgent. We shouldn't fool 'round." He took Pamela's limp, cold hand in his. The back of it was bumpy and a bit reddened. Keleth looked at him. "It, it kills you to not be able to really help much." "I don't think it would be prudent for me to discuss such things with you, Doctor Keleth." "Then I will tell you." Keleth said. "I have four daughters. And my third, Arizhel, when she was born, my wife, L'kor, well, both of them, they developed a raging infection. It nearly killed the both of them. And until I knew the problem and how to treat it, I was, I was not a pleasant man to be around. It tears at you if you cannot fix things." "I, yes, it does." "And now I have things I cannot fix." "With, with Pamela? And the others?" "No. In my own house." Keleth said. "My wife is paralyzed from the waist down. And I cannot fix that. And it rips me up like you are being ripped up now." "Maybe we're not meant to, to fix everything." Malcolm said. "Maybe you're just supposed to be with her, even if you cannot make it all go away." "I will not take life advice from you, Reed." Keleth said, straightening up. "And you are supposed to be on this vessel's Bridge, yes? Leave me to my work." Keleth said gruffly. =/\= Dr. Keating-Fong sent out a message via her PADD: 146


Dear Dr. Hudson, As you know, your father was sent home from the Green Mountain Medical Facility for hospice care. He has passed. You are not obligated to take the next series of tests if it will be too much for you. On a personal note, Pamela, please do not feel obligated to finish your schooling on time. Go and be with your family. Sincerely, Dr. Bernardine Keating-Fong, MD, PhD. Funny, it didn't go through. The Ti'Mur continued at high warp. =/\= Malcolm sat on the Bridge. The Somraw was close but not a threat. Both ships were slowly, slowly moving toward the last-known location of the Ti'Mur. He turned on a PADD. He went to Search and typed: Search: Weaponized diseases: historical. 140,000 records. Search: Weaponized viral diseases: historical. 12,800 records. Search: Weaponized viral diseases: historical. Dermatology. 1,000 records. He scanned through. Tularemia. Hemorrhagic fevers. Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis. HIV. Another one. He clicked on some pictures and cringed. He clicked open his communicator. "Doctors, I may have, I may have found something." Phlox said, "I was performing a search and kept coming 147


up with pictures of Native American blankets." "Blankets?" T'Pol asked. "Yes. A primitive form of germ warfare." "You believe that is what this is?" asked Keleth. "Interesting. That could assist me with my people as well. There is a very old and shameful part of our history when that was done. It is dishonorable to hide behind microbes and unseen viruses. You should look your enemies in the eye before you strike them down. Germ warfare is the very nadir of cowardice." "We feel the same way, more or less." Malcolm said. "Doctor Phlox do you see what I have seen?" "Yes." Phlox said. "It appears that a cure was not developed, but the immunity comes from -- and it is ironic when it comes to you, Lieutenant -- it came from a much milder affliction that was observed in dairy maids." "Dairy maids?" asked Keleth. "Yes. They milked cows hundreds of years ago." Malcolm explained. "It’s somewhat ironic, considering my aversion to dairy." "That is correct. And in the late eighteenth century, a British doctor, Edward, uh, Edward Jenner," Phlox read off his PADD, "noticed that dairy maids would get a mild disease called cow pox. But then they were immune to a much more deadly disease. The, the cow pox disease is properly called vaccinia. From it, the word vaccine is developed -- it's, Hoshi would find this interesting -- it's derived from the Latin word for cow, vaca." "And the more virulent malady?" T'Pol asked. 148


"It's called variola." Malcolm did a quick search. "Smallpox."

149


16 "Very well. But there is no cure." Phlox said. "No cure?" T'Pol asked. "None. Humans gave up trying to cure smallpox because prevention was so good. It was considered eradicated in 1979. There were two stockpiles of it kept, along with vaccines, in case of terror attacks, but it was anthrax, not smallpox, that was first weaponized. It appears that even human terrorists found that weaponizing smallpox was distasteful and wrong." Phlox stated. "But someone has the stomach for it." Keleth said. "Reed, we may need more blood from you. Stand by." He closed the communications link. "What are you proposing?" T'Pol asked. "The blood is not a cure, yes? But that one, he has 150


another affliction, very mild, and is injected with an enzyme, what was it?" Keleth asked. "Lactase." said Phlox. "If the two are combined, or if, well, perhaps it has something to do with growth medium." Keleth said, thinking out loud. "There is also, I do not mean to be distracted, but I have my own people to consider. There are few weaponized diseases in Klingon history. A quick search may turn up what I am looking for." "Can you help us now?" T'Pol asked. "Give me an hour." said Keleth. "I will do my own investigation for my own people. I must do this. I probably have another day or two before they are truly critical but I wish to have a good plan of attack for when we are done here." "Do you think it will be that fast?" Phlox asked. "It will have to be." Keleth said, indicating Crewman Madden. "That female will die in a day or two. The others will start to follow. It has to be fast." "Or not at all." T'Pol said. =/\= Long day. Malcolm was exhausted. Doing everyone's job was not what he was cut out for. It was almost oh two hundred hours. No wonder he was all in. "Going to, going to have a lie down for a bit." he said into the communicator. 151


"I, too, need to rest for a while." Keleth said. "Very well." Phlox said. "Lieutenant, come here and show Doctor Keleth to an empty room on B Deck." Malcolm did as requested. "And, and over in there, you can wash up." he said, then left. There was no time for niceties. He was far too tired. Keleth sat down on the bed in the unfamiliar room. "Too soft." he muttered to himself. He tapped out onto his PADD. Dach Disease. Lack of focus. That had to be it. He reached into the front of his tunic and pulled out a tiny chain he was wearing. It had a charm on it, a lavaliere. Two ladders crossing, a double helix. One was dark, the other, a dull silvery color. "L'Kor, you are the iron and I am the tin." he whispered to no one. =/\= Malcolm's dream was troubling. They were together again. Pamela was naked, writhing under his touch, squealing with delight. Her hands were everywhere, and so were his. Mouths met and broke apart, and found other body parts and then met again and again. He was on top, she was, she faced him, she faced away. They were on the bed, on the floor, standing up, sitting at the desk, even. She wore heels, she wore a leather corset, she wore nothing. He was bound with handcuffs or scarves, and broke away or let them overtake him as the moment demanded. She hit him with a leather strap and he didn't flinch, didn't lose concentration and, most of all, didn't lose his arousal. She scratched his back, raking it 152


with her nails and drawing blood. He scratched her in return, but his nails met her breasts, not her back, making irregular marks. They were breathing faster, hotly and saltily swearing at each other, she kept telling him to do it, to get on with it, to come on already. He was close, could feel everything rocketing along when her face turned to a mass of bumps and her body went from smooth and beautiful to pebbly and mottled, disgusting and frightening. Desire turned off like a switch and he pushed her away and backed away from her. She approached him and he pushed back again. "But I love you!" she cried out. And he awoke. He sat up, aching, panting, coldly sweating and shivering. He finally said, "What kind of a man am I if an imperfection or two affects me so? Is my love real if it can be so easily thrown away?" =/\= Keleth, too, dreamed. It was their home, on Kronos. L'Kor was lying on their bed, nursing Arizhel. So it was over forty years ago. L'Kor looked up when Keleth came into the room, which was filled with her artistry. Small and large 153


sculptures, paintings of dramatic scenes and carefully woven wall hangings. Her talent was everywhere, but nowhere more so than in the baby she held. He looked at her. "You are both better, I see." "Yes." she said, and adjusted the baby a little under her right arm. A small thing flashed in her left hand. "What is it you have?" he asked. She adjusted the baby again and held out her left hand, palm open. It was a little necklace, with a dark and light lavaliere charm. "This is for you. Thank you for my children." "Thank you." he said, smiling and taking it. "It looks like DNA." "It is." she said. "The iron is coated so it will not rust. It will always remain constant. You, Keleth, are the iron. The other half is tin. It is pliable and it is weaker. I am the tin." "No." he shook his head. "You are the one who has been through so much more than I have. You are the one who has been constant, you are the one who is true. I am the one who can be bent and shaped, like you have hammered out this charm. You, L'Kor, are the iron. I am merely the tin." He awoke. "I must tell her that." he said to himself. "It is all true, all history, save for that part. And that is the most 154


important piece. She is the iron. All I am is tin." =/\= Phlox kept working, into the night. Everyone else was gone, but he was all right. He didn't have to sleep for a while. The virus did not grow on anything liquid and needed a solid or semi-solid medium. The virus did grow on a medium of mozzarella but that didn't seem to be getting him anywhere. He spiked the solution with lactase and set it aside. He shook his head. It wasn't working. Vaccinia, variola. Variola, vaccinia. He looked up mozzarella on his PADD. Water buffalo milk. It was made from water buffalo milk, and not cow's milk. He needed a cheese or some other substance made from solidified cows' milk. Cheddar.

155


17 Porthos eagerly trotted along as Phlox went on his errand. Their destination was the kitchen. Phlox rummaged around in the refrigerator until he found what he was looking for. "Ah. And no, you may not have any." He said to Porthos. "Here, have some mozzarella. We can spare that. But not this." They returned to Sick Bay. Phlox prepared a petri dish, adding in the variola virus, growth medium, vaccinia, a few drops of Reed's blood and lactase. All together in one mix. He let it sit, then looked at his PADD. "Hmm, it says here that mature cheddar contains crystals of calcium lactate. Perhaps that will help, eh?" Porthos did not answer. He got up and looked over at Crewman Madden. She looked terrible, and was barely recognizable. "I hope we 156


can move fast enough, for your sake." he muttered. He returned to his stool and began dictating: Medical Log, July twenty-seventh, 2158. Chief Medical Officer Phlox reporting. Progress continues to be slow. Disease has been identified as weaponized smallpox, and so this matter is believed to be an instance of Germ Warfare. Lieutenant Reed's immunity has been identified as being conferred via vaccination. Immunity is imperfect; the Lieutenant has been ill twice but with extremely mild cases. The first instance was when he was vaccinated several years ago. The second instance was very recent. It is estimated that the vaccination is not a perfect match to the strain currently under investigation. Klingon Chief Medical Officer Keleth of the Somraw has been particularly helpful in this investigation. This should be noted in future negotiations with the Klingon Empire. Crewman Madden's condition is worsening. In addition to the external evidence of the disease, enanthem are present on the tongue and other mucous membranes. She has one of the three most advanced cases. The other two are Haddon and Delacroix. They evidently have a hemorrhagic version of the disease, which traditionally has a higher fatality rate. Given this form of weaponization of the variola virus, it is believed that most if not all of the cases will be fatal, but that the three hemorrhagic ones will be more rapidly fatal. Intravenous fluid replacement is of 157


some help. Delacroix and Haddon are visited as time permits. It is recommended that they be moved to Sick Bay tomorrow if a cure is not found, and exchange places with Will Owen and Ensign Mayweather, who currently have milder cases. Current plan is to grow the variola virus in as many different solutions and media as time permits, and check for cell death. The virus grows best on solids and semi-solids. Dr. Keleth's recommendation is to check on growth on media containing lactose. This is somewhat akin to growing influenza vaccine on eggs. So far, a medium containing water buffalo milk has proven unsuccessful. A medium of cow's milk is now under investigation. On a second matter, it is my belief that there is still a possibility that one of the Nereid Medical Academy students was cheating. While the wiping of the overall database appears to have been a part of the assault -- particularly as evidenced by a similar problem with the Klingon Medical Database -- the initial wiping of the quiz is more problematic. Whichever species perpetrated the Germ Warfare most decidedly knew nothing about that. I am forced to conclude that there is still a cheater or there is possibly even more than one. He stopped dictating. Interesting. =/\= The alarm screaming in his ear, Malcolm got up. He 158


had enough presence of mind to collect Dr. Keleth. They returned to Sick Bay. "I have interesting news." Phlox said. T'Pol walked in, yawning. "Oh, good. I won't have to repeat myself." Phlox said. "I placed the virus onto a medium of hardened cow's milk." "Hardened cow's milk?" asked Malcolm. "Cheddar cheese, to be more precise." Phlox replied. "Oh, my." "As I was saying," Phlox continued, "I then added lactase and vaccinia to the dish, along with a bit of your blood, Lieutenant, and set it aside. Four hours later, I have this." He showed the dish. Keleth and T'Pol nodded knowingly. "What am I supposed to be seeing?" asked Malcolm. "The variola virus is a pinkish color." Keleth said. "I don't, I don't see any pink." Malcolm said. "I. Don't. See. Any. Pink." "And so you should not, assuming that the virus has been eradicated from this dish." T'Pol said. "Have you tested it in a patient yet?" Keleth asked. "No. But she will be first." Phlox indicated Crewman Madden. "There is no need to hesitate." T'Pol said. Phlox prepared the shot and administered it. Malcolm 159


didn't look. "I'll be on the Bridge." he said. "Call me if there is something, if there is some news, please." He left. =/\= "Medical Log, July twenty-seventh, 2158. Chief Medical Officer T'Par reporting." she dictated, far away on the speeding Ti'Mur. "Patient has fully recovered from the variola virus, due to administration of a modified form of Cidofovir. Patient will be regularly checked for nephrotoxicity." =/\= "I have tested the patient's blood twice." Phlox reported. "Are we in agreement?" "We are." T'Pol said. Keleth nodded. "Recovery will be slow. I will now bring the patient out of medically-induced stasis." Phlox said. "T'Pol, contact Lieutenant Reed." She clicked communicator "Lieutenant, we something."

her open. have

"On my way." He put the ship back into drift, as far away from the Somraw as possible. He arrived as Crewman Madden was regaining 160


consciousness. She tried to speak, but couldn't. "That's all right." Phlox said to her. "Just rest. Talk later. And, and, I will handle all dermatological issues. Don't worry about that. Just rest." She closed her eyes. Malcolm dared to hope, finally. "Can you cure Pamela? Uh, Doctor Hudson?" "First Haddon and Delacroix. I would like for them to be in Sick Bay. You'll need to shift patients around. Move Travis and, and MacKenzie, switch them with the other two." "Very well. Commander, if you please." The shifting went pretty quickly. For the past few days, they had all dropped a kilo or so, and his shoulders felt better anyway. Haddon responded almost immediately, and even tried to get up. Delacroix took longer, but seemed to be all right. "Now?" Malcolm asked. He didn't want to be impatient but, he was. "Here. You can administer it yourself." Phlox said, handing Malcolm vaccines for her and Blair. Pamela didn't wake up immediately, but did. Blair blinked a few times. Pamela made a slight noise and indicated with her eyes. Her index finger was slightly up and trembling. He took it in his fingers and then covered her hand with his. "I'll be back very soon." he promised, and leaned over and kissed her forehead, amidst a few raised bumps. What should this be to me? He thought to 161


himself. T’Pol and Malcolm made their way through that deck and C Deck. They would inject, then wait, then inject a second time in order to bring patients out of medical stasis. One crewman looked particularly bad. His face was very bumpy and worse on the left side than the right, directly over his eye. T'Pol looked at the names scrawled on the door. It was Crewman Hodgkins. They brought him to Sick Bay, even though there weren't enough beds. "Crewman Hodgkins is an advanced case." T'Pol explained. "Yes, definitely. Must have worsened considerably overnight." Phlox said. "I've read about this. Sometimes smallpox can blind a person. Put him, oh, I don't know where." "Doctor, since the milder cases are recovering in quarters, I shall take Pamela with me. She can sleep in my quarters." Malcolm volunteered. "You must let her sleep." Keleth scolded, then clapped him on the back again, hard. "Give her a day or two before, eh?" Malcolm blanched. "Yes, yes, of course. Here, Doctor, can you assist me in bringing her to B Deck?" "Yes. And then you will take me to the Transporter. I must attend to my own." "Do you need help?" T'Pol asked. "No. I can prepare another gas and pump it throughout the decks. Much like here. First to cure, then to wake. And I will lock myself back into Quarantine. No one wants to be around so many who are awakening at the 162


same time." "We cannot thank you enough." Phlox said. "Learning is good. No matter where it comes from." Keleth said. He picked up Pamela as Malcolm watched. She was alarmed but had no strength to resist. Reed directed him to quarters. Once Pamela was laid down, Malcolm and Keleth went to the Transporter. "It's customary, we shake hands when people depart." Malcolm said. "We don't." "Doctor, I, I just want to tell you, since we have no idea which species perpetrated this, might I suggest that our two sides at least sign some sort of a treaty whereby we outlaw Germ Warfare? It seems only fair. This is, it is truly horrific." "We wish it on no one. I am not a political man." "Neither am I." Malcolm said. "But there is someone I may be able to speak with. Thank you again." He ran the Transporter and Keleth was gone.

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18 Medical Log, July thirtieth, 2158. Chief Medical Officer Phlox reporting. Most of Sick Bay has been cleared of patients, and I am left with treating Crewman Haddon, Crewman Delacroix, Crewman Hodgkins and Crewman Madden. Crewman Gary Hodgkins has suffered permanent blindness in his left eye, due to an accumulation of enanthem within the sclera. I am forced to recommend that he be removed from his current position in the MACOs and that this twenty-six-year old crew member be reassigned to an area where his infirmity will be less of an issue. The other three crew members should eventually be able to return to their regular duties. Crewman Deborah Haddon will be monitored for any lasting physical effects before returning to Security detail. 164


Crewman Brian Delacroix will receive significant reconstructive facial surgery before returning to Food Service. Crewman Melissa Madden will need the most reconstructive surgery before returning to her duties as the night shift pilot. The Ti'Mur will be here tomorrow and will take all four of these crewmen for extensive rehabilitation, which is expected to take several months. All other crew members will undergo surgeries as needed while the Enterprise is docked with the Ti'Mur. I will be performing or assisting with most of those surgeries. On another note, the Nereid Medical students will immediately return to Nereid on the Yahrala, which is approaching at high warp. They will be operated on later, as that ship's medical staff's time permits. I still do not have information on the cheater or cheaters. He turned off his PADD and shook his head. T'Pol came in. "Just when I think I am understanding humans, they change again." "How so?" "They are, they are a rather confessional species." "Yes, I noticed that myself." Phlox said. "I suspect it's the near-death experience that has them so spooked. There may be confessions of love lurking out there, about to be revealed. What did you hear?" "Chef told me the secret ingredient in the tomato sauce." T'Pol said. "It's burgundy wine." "Ah. Well, a crew member has even come out to me." 165


Phlox said, shaking his head. "I can't say as I blame them. There must have been a great deal of fear." "Perhaps the fear was logical at the time." T'Pol allowed. "But these confessions now are ...." she just walked away. =/\= Malcolm got back from shift and found Pamela up and wearing a towel, drying her hair with another one. "Oh, you're better!" he said. "Yes, I feel stronger." she said. "That's wonderful, Darling." " Reed, we have to talk. Really." "I, I know. You're leaving tomorrow." he said. "About that, yes. And about everything else." "Can't we, uh, can't we talk tomorrow?" he asked. =/\= Will came into Sick Bay. "Doctor Phlox, can I speak with you? In private?" T'Pol left. "By all means. What can I do for you, Doctor Owen?" "I, are the patients asleep?" "Yes, they should be." Phlox said. "Here, let's go over by the lab. None of them should hear us. Now, what can I do for you?" "I know who the cheater is." =/\= 166


"Tomorrow?" Pamela asked. She sat down on the bed. "Yes." Malcolm said, coming close and standing over her. "Let's, let's lose this." he tugged at the towel around her torso. "I, Reed, I am really disfigured. I looked at myself in the mirror even though Phlox had said not to." "It's not bad." "It is." "I'm all right with it all." "Now you're pitying me." "No." he said, guiding her hand down. "See what you still do to me?" He leaned over and kissed her. "I don't have a lot of strength. I'm not at 100%." "That's all right." "But ---" "But nothing." he said, insistent. "You will be gone tomorrow. Let's, let's have tonight together. No matter how fast or slow it all goes. No matter how good it even is. But let's at least have it." =/\= "Oh?" Phlox asked. "I am listening." "It's, it's me." Will said. "Have you been acting alone?" "Yes." "And Doctor Claymore, is she involved in any way, or did she know about it?" 167


"No and no. She -- I did this because I've been failing. I didn't want to, didn't want to be forced to leave her. Do you, do you understand that?" "I cannot say that I am fully confused by your motivations. But I will still recommend -- in fact, insist -that you be expelled." "I, I know. You won't, uh, you won't tell her, right?" "Dr. Owen, she is bound to find out. No, I will not inform her myself. But you should." They didn't hear the door open. "I can't tell Blair this." Will said. "Tell me what?" she asked, standing in the doorway to Sick Bay. =/\= "I feel so hideous." Pamela complained. "You are as lovely as you always have been." Malcolm said. "Did you think that your beauty was only confined to your skin?" "I, you're not serious." "I am." he said, more forcefully grabbing at the towel until it was off her. She had redness on her breasts and belly. There were bumps on her thighs, including over her scar. Her feet were riddled with them. Her hands were pebbly. Her face had some, mostly on her forehead but a few by her temples as well. "This is a lot for you to tolerate. Are you sorry you did that?" "No." he said, putting her hand down there again. "I am 168


still aroused. I still want you. I cannot, cannot stop wanting you. All of this is temp'rary anyway. This is just a bump --" he smiled " -- in the road." "We have to talk." "Tomorrow." He took off his uniform and briefs and, as he had said, he was aroused. Perhaps not as hotly and almost painfully as he had been with her before, but he was still interested, she was still compelling. He got into bed next to her and kissed her neck, then moved his mouth down, his lips tracing down over her breast and then her stomach. He looked up at her for a second. "Tell me if, if anything hurts." She laughed at that, louder than he'd ever heard her laugh before. When she'd composed herself, she said, "Thank you for, for this. For not being spooked by it." "Well, you know what they say. You're supposed to get right back on the horse." "Good metaphor." she said, eyes flashing downward. =/\= "Well? I am waiting." Blair said. "You can, um, there is the Decontamination Chamber if you wish to speak truly privately." Phlox offered. "Uh, no. Whatever this is, let's keep it out in the open." Blair said sharply. "Blair ..." "Don't you Blair me, Will Owen. We aren't supposed to be keeping secrets. So what's the big secret?" 169


"I, huh,...." "And ...?" Will sighed. "I, I did it. I'm the, the cheater." he said slowly, then his voice sped up considerably, "But I only did it to be with you. If I'd failed, we'd be separated! I love you!" "So we all almost died -- not to mention the Captain and the entire human crew?!" she yelled. "Please, there are patients resting." Phlox said. "My apologies to them." Blair spat out. "Did you know that crewman over there was blinded?" "Yes, I do know that." Will admitted. "And that's your fault!" she exclaimed. "My fault? I wiped a quiz and then the unit, uh, twice. Plus a bit of, of Orthopedics. But that's it. The rest of it wasn't me." "I don't believe you!" she yelled, then saw Phlox and brought her voice back down again. "And I don't care anyway. Even if, even if the rest of this isn't you -- no one told you to jeopardize all of our careers now, did they?" "N-no." "So who cares what else happened. You were gonna just let everyone else take the fall for you. And you'd've killed Stoney's career, and An's, and Pamela's, and mine rather than own up to it?" "Don't worry about Pamela. She could always turn tricks." 170


Blair slapped him. "It's a good thing we're leaving, and you'll be expelled. Right, he'll be expelled?" she asked Phlox. "Yes. I will be recommending that the Nereid Medical Academy take that course of action." "Good." she spat. "Then this will be easier." "Wh-what?" "I never have to see you again, and I never have to talk to you." "But, Blair! We love each other! I would marry you tomorrow." "It'll be an awfully funny wedding, you exchanging vows with yourself. I'm gone. Doctor Phlox, a pleasure." She stormed out. =/\= Merging was careful. Malcolm mainly just held her. Pamela didn't have her usual stamina, not even close, but it was close enough. After climax happened, he kissed her repeatedly, until it was obvious that she was just too tired to do even that. He held her close as she slept, arms around her, never leaving her.

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19 Pamela woke first, but didn't move. She was still kind of tired, but that wasn't the reason. It just ... it felt good. She did stir enough, though, that Malcolm woke. He kissed her ear. "How are you feeling?" "Very good." she said. "You, um, I can tell. I'm not so sure I can perform again, or if we have the time. We have to talk." "I suppose there's no getting 'round it." he said, breaking away and sitting up. "Pity there isn't more time." "Yes." she said, eying him. "But, ugh, as little as I love it, the talk's gotta happen. Instead. Sorry." "It's all right, Darling." "Reed, I'm not the one." she said, putting on her panties. 172


"But --" "No. I'm not. And you're not the one, either." "P--" "No. Malcolm, I never get a chance to say or do anything noble." she said, putting on her bra. "So just, just be quiet for a little bit and, and let me be noble for once. Okay?" "All right." he said, getting up and getting a fresh pair of briefs from a drawer. Arousal was gone anyway. He would listen without distraction. "Like I said, I'm, I'm not. And you're not. And this is fun and all, but it's ..." "Just fun?" he asked. "No. More than that. But we gotta be fair to each other. This will be distance and apart- uh, -ness, and there will be other people and temptations and you can't expect me to wait. I can't expect you to, either. You don't have to." "Darling ..." "Please don't." "No. Let me speak a little now." he said. "You're, you're right." He paused for a moment. "I am?" "Yes. It feels a bit freeing, to say that aloud. But, I want you to know what this has all, what it has all meant to me. Can I tell you that?" "Yes, of course." she slipped on her shoes.

173


"Throughout my life, my life as a lover, that is, I have either pined for the unattainable or held back with the ones I could have, and never truly got close to any of them. With you, though, it is, it has been, well, about testing my limits. About knowing what I could, could tolerate. Do you recall the first time I kissed you?" "Of course." "And I was being as careful as I could be, because I was afraid it would all shatter. My arousal, your interest, the moment, everything. That it would simply become pulverized if I pressed on it more than by the slightest amount. And you showed me -- that you, and me, and what we could, what we have had, that it's all, it's all made from, from sterner stuff. None of it shattered. And I learned that I could do more, and be more, and feel more. The very limits of my intolerance have been stretched." "You've seen how much you can take." she said, fixing her hair in the mirror's reflection. "Yes. And I've determined that I can take a lot. I suppose that's a part of why I was able to consent to the Klingon doctor coming aboard. The old Malcolm would have been mortified, would have found every possible way to get out of that. I'm not saying that we became friends but I got to see him as a, well, as a person." "I confess I was a bit alarmed when that lumm -- the Klingon -- picked me up. He did have one hand under my butt the entire time." Malcolm smiled to himself a little. "I can't say as I totally blame him. You do have a rather nice one." "Did you know that there's a new unit in my class?" 174


"Oh?" "Yes. It's about the RVV." "What's the RVV?" "The Reed Variant Vaccinia. How you saved all our lives with a bit of improvisation like they did on the Apollo Thirteen mission, where an air filter was made out of an old sock or something like that." "Well, it wasn't just me." he said. She smiled, then came over and kissed him, running her fingers along his chest before he put a tee shirt on. "I don't know if kissing makes it better or worse." "I feel," he said, arms around her, "like we have unfinished business, you and I." "We do." she admitted. "But I have to, I have to do things." "Will you be back at the Academy?" "I don't think so, at least not for now." she said. "I need to work on my, on myself." "Oh?" "You know why. I've been using you as a therapist, and it's about time I talked to a real therapist instead. You know what they say? Physician, heal thyself. And I have to." "Do you imagine you'll pharmaceutical cures?"

take

one

of

those

"Definitely not. I don't want to lose who I am, even though that’s not necessarily that wonderful. It's Freud's old talking cure. It takes a lot longer, and it doesn't 175


always work. But at least, at the end of it, I'll still be myself." "You are a worthwhile person." he said, kissing her cheek. "With or without imperfections." "With." she said. "I, I know my father has died. So there is now only one person I never want to speak with again. I don't think this will ever get me to forgive my mother. But, in time, I think I need to make peace with Lisa." "Your sister, yes?" "Yes, that's right. It's not her fault. My parents pretty much just had a dartboard, with two equal halves. One was me, and the other was her. They threw a dart, and I was hit, so I was the one they did it all to. The only thing Lisa's guilty of is not being hit with the dart. But it's our parents who set up the board and who threw the dart, and then acted on that. Not her. So she should be, I don't know if the word is forgiven. But at least tolerated by me." "This, this unfinished business," Malcolm said, "I would like the opportunity to, to act upon it at some point. In the future." "I think that could happen." she said tentatively. "I'm not in the Solar System often." he said. "But I would like for you to be the first person I contact when I am." "I will answer. And I will clear my schedule." she smiled. "There will be other, other courtiers, you know. But I will always make time to see the knave." "And I will make sure that I spend time with you, my 176


Queen." he said. "But there may be a few Princesses here and there." he smiled. "That's all right." she said. "And as it should be. And there's going to be a time, someday, I bet, when you get to the Solar System and you don't think of contacting me. And that's going to be all right, too, because it will mean that you really did find the Queen. Oh, and when you do -- be Alpha once in a while. Don't let her push you around." He kissed her deeply. "Until then, Sweetheart." There was a communications chime. "Looks like it's time to go." she said. "I'll see you out." he said. =/\= Once the Somraw was within range, Keleth had the Communications Officer patch him through to Kronos. L'Kor answered at once, lying in their bed. "Did I wake you?" he asked. "No. I was just lying here, thinking about you." "I, I want to come home." he said. "But your work is important." "Not as important." "I cannot do what I used to be able to." she said. "I cannot be fixed. So much of me is useless now." "No." he said, fingering the lavaliere charm. It flashed a little. "You are the iron. You have always been the iron, and you still are. All I am, all I can ever offer you, is tin." 177


"That has always been more than enough." she said. "And it still is." =/\= Captain Archer cleared his throat. Then Tripp did. Then Travis. Hoshi finally jogged Malcolm's arm. He was kissing Pamela in front of everyone, they were not letting go, and it had gone on for a while. "Ahem. We have to go." Dr. Keating-Fong said. Pamela and Malcolm finally broke apart. "I will write to you." he said. "I'll answer when I can." she breathed. He put his hand on her face and smiled. "This will, uh, the bumps will be gone the next time you see me." she promised. "Doesn't matter either way." he said. =/\= Tripp, Travis and Malcolm walked down the halls after the Nereid party had departed. "You wanna talk about any of it?" Tripp asked tentatively. "Uh, not right now." Malcolm said. "Big winner." Travis said. "Yes." Malcolm said. "I suppose I am." He smiled tightly and entered his quarters, alone. Once the door had shut, he had one more thing to do, one more sonnet to write. He composed it, checked it 178


over carefully, and hit Send. The knave's reward was a broader smile, a thing that rarely had been seen It was not eternity, it was only for a little while Could the knave help to heal the Queen? The damage done, outside and within and both needed the other's care There were hearts, underneath, yet to win but they needed, and still need, much repair And so the Queen departs this place and leaves the knave, who broods and misses and hopes they can, one day, again share space, of not just their bodies, not just their kisses We knew we could not be each other's last All we can hope is not to merely be in each other's past

179

Gershen-Siegel : "Intolerance"  

A PG-13, ENT fan fiction novel: written by J. R. Gershen-Siegel There are women coming to the Enterprise! Travis Mayweather proposes a frie...

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