Title: 12 Bar Blues
Author: Joules Mer
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: T/R
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  No profit was made, no copyright infringement was intended.
Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben and BLTS.  Anyone else please ask.
Beta: None.
Series:  The Harp Chronicles (sequel to Bending).
A/N:  I could explain the 12 bar blues to you...or I could send you to a website like  www.coast2coastmusic.com/diatonic/12_bar_blues.shtml  ('cause I'm better at playing it than explaining it).

12 Bar Blues


    "Mornin' Malcolm."  An ensign choses that moment to walk by and I don't get the greeting I was hoping for.

    "Good morning Commander."  He only looks up from his pancakes long enough to indicate the empty chair across from him.  I take the invitation and sit, but my eggs don't seem quite as appetizing any more.  I know Malcolm is a private person, but I don't really understand why he's behaving like this.  I sneak a glance up at him.  The mere sight of him chewing his pancakes makes my insides go all warm and squiggly.  I've fallen for him so incredibly hard.  I used to just argue with him.  We were friends, but he still annoyed the hell out of me.  I remember how shocked I was when I finally, with a little help from Jon, figured out what was really going on.  

    I was over at Jon's quarters having a beer.  I was ranting away about Malcolm's latest request for more resources or power, something for his beloved phase cannons, and Jon was listening with this odd smile on his face.  I finally snapped and demanded what he thought was so funny.  



    "Me."  I narrowed my eyes at my friend.  Would it have killed him to be sympathetic?  "What the hell's that supposed ta mean?"

    If anything Jon's smile got even broader.  "Do you realize that you're always talking about Malcolm?"

    What?  "I'm not always talking about Malcolm."  There was a touch of petulance in my tone and I wondered where it came from.

    "Since you came here this evening you have recounted how you had breakfast with Malcolm, how you worked on the aft cannon with Malcolm, how you had lunch with Malcolm, how Malcolm is going to the movie with Travis and finally how Malcolm made some unreasonable request for more power."  I winced.  When he put it like that.... "If I didn't know you better I'd think that you liked him."  Jon's emphasis of the word 'like' caused me to give an undignified squawk as I almost fell out of my chair in surprise.  Unmasked delight at my reaction danced in his eyes as he placed his drink firmly on the table.  "I knew it."

    I finally recovered from the shock.  "Whoa Jon... I mean, wait just a second.  Malcolm, he's... I mean, he's a he Jon."

    Jon's eyes twinkled, "So?"
    My mouth dropped open, "I like girls, Jon.  Girls.  The people with breasts..."  I trailed off and finished rather lamely, "and stuff."

    Jon gave me a wounded look that was belied by his still twinkling eyes, "Trip, how long have we been friends?  You've fallen for Malcolm.  I can tell."

    I thought about it for a minute before I admitted, "Well, he is pretty good looking.  For a guy."  Jon nodded encouragingly.  "His eyes are such a nice colour.  I like the way that he smiles.  His accent is pretty nice ta listen to as well."  Suddenly something unexpected popped out of my mouth, "And he's got such a nice ass."  My eyes widened in surprise.

    "See."  He gave me a pointed look and I could only nod.


    "Busy day ahead?"  The question jolts me back to the present.  

    "Fairly.  The engine's been a little finicky lately.  I'm plannin' on a little TLC, usually has it purring like a kitten in no time."  I can see laughter dancing in his expressive eyes, but he gives no other outward sign of his mirth.

    "I'm sure."  The response is quite dry.  To everyone else in the room we must look like two senior officers discussing our work.  It wasn't quite how I pictured this morning being when I woke up.  I was ready to walk hand in hand with Malcolm into the mess hall.  In truth, his behaviour is really starting to bother me.

    I can tell Trip is becoming agitated and I can't figure out why.  I've been so careful to appear to be just his colleague, when all I want to do is bend him over this table and snog him senseless.  I know how new he is to homosexual relationships so keeping it quiet is definitely a good idea.  I'm afraid that if the crew realize it will be a sharp wake up call.  One that will probable have him running screaming to any and every woman on this ship.  I don't think I could handle that.  Not to mention all the pitying glances from my fellow crewmates.  If there's one thing I can't stand it's pity.  I'll have to try harder to hide my feelings.


    The mess hall doors slide open and I scan the room until I find them.  They're sitting together near the far corner of the room.  A smile fixes itself on my face as I walk over.  "Good morning, gentlemen."  Malcolm somehow manages to stiffen to attention while eating his breakfast.  

    "Mornin' Cap'n."

    "Good morning, Sir."

    I blink in surprise.  That wasn't quite the greeting I was expecting, not after last night.  Trip meets my eyes and gives me a weak grin.  What is going on?  "Did you have a good evening?"

    "Yes Captain.  I would say I'm infinitely better versed in the sport of water polo, thank you."  I can feel a new intensity in the air and just catch Trip grinding his teeth as he looks sideways at Malcolm.  Malcolm's response puzzles me as well.  He knows full well that wasn't what I was asking about.  

    "Well.  Since you enjoyed yourself maybe we should do that again sometime."  

    "That would be nice, Sir."  Trip is giving Malcolm a full blown glare right now, which Malcolm seems to be ignoring.  I'm completely baffled so I decide the best course of action is to retreat.

    "Great.  I'll see you on the bridge later.  Enjoy your breakfast."  As if there's any chance of that happening.

    "Later, Cap'n."  Trip gives me an almost apologetic look.

    "Good day Sir."  I walk towards the captain's mess without a clue as to what just went on.


    "What was that all about?"

    He looks almost taken aback.  "What was what all about?"

    I scrub a hand through my hair in frustration.  "That!  Why did you treat him like that?"

    Malcolm almost looks genuinely puzzled, "He's the captain."

    "He's also the friend that set us up last night."  I can feel anger bubbling to the surface and do my best to suppress it.  "What are ya doin', Malcolm?  You're behaving like an ass."  He starts backwards in his seat as if I just slapped him and I realize that was the wrong thing to say.  He is about to speak when an alert on his padd goes off, warning him that his shift starts in five minutes.  I can see him change his mind about what he wants to say as he leans forward.

    "This in neither the time or the place, Commander.  If you have something to discuss I suggest we meet in my quarters at 1900 this evening."

    My voice grates as I reply, "That sounds like a plan, Mr. Reed."


    I've blown it.  That much is clear.  We were only together for less than twelve hours and I've already managed to bugger it up.  Beautiful work, Malcolm.  The panel in front of me sparks as if to get my attention.  I stop my woolgathering and focus on my work.  I'm dreading 1900 hours, but it still can't come fast enough.

    I've run into him twice since our shifts started.  Once in the corridor when he was walking towards the armoury and once on the bridge.  I can completely understand him disregarding me while at the tactical station on the bridge, but a more casual hello would have been nice in the corridor.  I don't know why he's acting like this.  All I want is the friendly, playful, loving man of last night.  1900 hours better get here soon.  I'm going to lose my temper badly enough as it is without another encounter.


    "Dammit Malcolm.  What the hell is going on."  The door has barely slid shut behind us when I just explode.  We ran into each other on the way to his quarters and he started with the 'commander' crap again.  I can't stand it.  "Why are you being like that?"  He blinks and steps backwards.  When he speaks his voice is a whisper.

    "Like what?"  How can he not know?  My temper rises and I explode again.  I was never good at bottling up the emotional stuff.  

    "Like... like ya don't care about me.  Like I was just some kinda pity fuck ya want to forget about.  Like nothing happened between us.  Gawd Malcolm, I thought ya cared about me."  Malcolm looks stunned.


    Oh no.  This isn't going right at all.  Trip, the man I've fallen hopelessly in love with is convinced I hate him.  How could this happen.  "Oh Trip."  There's a definite quaver in my voice and he stops his tirade and glares at me with a still heaving chest.  "Oh Trip."  I repeat myself as I move to stand closer to him, determined to make this right.  If I still can.  "I do care about you.  I care about you a great deal."  He looks somewhat reassured, but still doubtful.  He gently chews on his bottom lip, his nervousness evident.  "You have to understand, I was afraid."  His eyes widen.  I don't think he's ever heard me admit to being afraid before.  "I didn't want to scare you away.  I know you're very new to this kind of relationship."  His cheeks pink slightly at that which gives me hope.  "And I thought the crew knowing would be too much.  I'm sorry that I hurt you."  I stand there, well within his personal space, and watch him.  I've said all that I can.  

    He looks down for a long moment, "Well, when ya put it that way..."

    It's just the signal I've been waiting for.  I put my arms around him a give him a tight hug.


    They didn't know how long they embraced, but it seemed to be an eternity later when they finally parted.  "I'm really sorry, Trip."

    "Stop apologizing, Malcolm.  I understand."  He gave Malcolm a small grin, "I really do."

    "I should have discussed it with you."

    "Yes you should have."  Trip was still slightly annoyed, but willing to forgive.

    Malcolm carefully took Trip's hand.  "How about we agree to be completely open with each other?"  Trip squeezed Malcolm's hand gently.  

    "Are you sure."  Trip was amazed that someone as private as Malcolm would offer something like that so early in their relationship.

    "Trip, I trust you.  Completely."  Trip's eyes widened at Malcolm's words.  After a moment to digest what Malcolm had said he stepped forward and kissed the other man deeply.  When they parted they were both panting for breath.

    "Can I stay the night?"

    Malcolm grinned, "Absolutely, love."


    "What th'hell is that?"  The question is barely comprehensible with his sleep slurred voice.

      I snuggle closer and slur out a response, "Razumovsky Quartet."


    I'm still more than half asleep, I do wish he'd be quiet and go back to being my pillow.  "Ludwig Van Beethoven, Opus 59, no. 3: String Quartet No. 9.  Menuetto grazioso."  I reply without even processing what I'm saying.

    "Malcolm," a touch of irritation is clearly present in his voice, "I mean, what is it doing playing?"

    I'm suddenly wide awake.  "It means it's 0600."  I reach over and turn off the music.  "You'll have to go now if you want to get back to your quarters before half the crew is in the corridors."

    There's a pause as he shifts to look me in the eye, "I can't think of any where else I'd rather be..."  He swallows and the arm around me gives a gentle squeeze.  "and I can't think of a reason to leave."  He leans in close and I here a murmured phrase before his lips close over mine, "I love you."