Author: Joules Mer
Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net
Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 2/1/2004
Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity and BLTS. All others
Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise
Summary: Turnabout is fair play and Q loves teaching people lessons.
Spoilers: Minor Future Tense and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount. All Star Trek characters
were used without permission and solely for the enjoyment of Star Trek fans.
No profit has, or will, be made by this story.
The cap came off and the aroma of well aged liquor was palatable.
He poured himself a hefty slug of scotch and carefully selected a padd from his
shelf. Malcolm wandered over to his bunk and settled himself comfortably,
his drink within easy reach. For the first time in he couldn't remember
how long Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, workaholic, had a night completely off.
While he didn't even have to think about working until late the next morning,
Trip was so far behind on his performance reviews he was going to spend an evening
writing them. This meant that Malcolm had planned some quality time with
classic literature. It was definitely deserved as he hadn't had the time
to read so much as a page of a book in over a month.
He'd just managed to get comfortable when a blinding flash
that nearly gave him a heart attack had his head snapping up to locate the cause
of the disturbance. What he saw didn't make any sense. There
was a strange man in his room. A man wearing a uniform that Malcolm had
only ever seen in display cases at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.
With lightening reflexes his hand snapped to the comm panel above his bunk.
"Reed to the armoury. Intruder alert, my quarters."
"You may as well save your breath, they can't hear you."
The man spoke with a cutting, vaguely American accent. An odd contradiction
to his uniform.
"Armoury, respond." There was no reply so Malcolm was
forced to conclude that the man, who was also standing between him and the door,
was telling the truth. "Who are you? What are you doing in my quarters?"
"What is it with you humans and asking questions all the time?
Your puny brains overcompensate by asking questions to hide the lack of higher
reasoning skills." Q removed his admiral's hat and struck a pose.
"I, Lieutenant Reed, am your local omnipotent being and I'm here to grant you
Malcolm, poised on the verge of flight or fight, was nevertheless
intrigued. "What are you talking about?" His eyes narrowed slightly
in suspicion of the intruder's motives. Suddenly the cabin was filled with
disembodied voices. He recognized the speakers immediately. It was
Trip and himself.
"If I could travel back in time I know exactly what year I'd
"What happened in 1588?"
"England defeated the Spanish Armada."
"Oh, I'm sure someone named Reed had a lot to do with that."
When the voices trailed off Malcolm looked slightly stunned
so Q continued. "From what I heard that day you're quite keen on time travel
Mally old chap." Malcolm made a face at the nickname as his visitor affected
a visage of great suffering. "Alas, they get all pissy when I show someone
the future. So we'll just have to settle for the past. Don't worry,
I'll return you when we're done." He paused for a beat and added as an afterthought,
"If I feel like it."
"Wait!" Malcolm's entreaty went unnoticed as the room
vanished in a burst of white light.
Spots marred Malcolm's vision and when he finally blinked them
away the sight that greeted him left him breathless. He was somehow floating
in the air over the ocean. An ocean dotted with ancient sailing vessels.
He turned and found his visitor "standing" beside him. Malcolm had to clear
his throat before he could stammer out a question. "Where are we?"
"It's the 29th of July and we're off the coast of Cornwall.
Anything about those ships look familiar?" Malcolm scrutinized the vessels
for a moment before realizing that he did indeed recognize them. When he
was eleven his grandfather had given him an old book of naval history. Malcolm
could still recall the real leather of the cover and the slightly musty smell
of the pages. He'd read that book over and over until he had it practically
memorized. The ships before him were right out of chapter five.
Malcolm turned back to his companion, carefully avoiding looking
directly down at the water all the while. "It's the Spanish Armada, so today
is the 29th of July, 1588. That means the English ships are in Plymouth,
but they'll sail into the channel tonight."
"Very good, Lieutenant. Now what can you tell me about
Malcolm had only to blink his eyes to find himself suddenly
closer to a Spanish galleon which was plowing through the waves. He squinted
at the vessel for a moment and managed to make out the name. "It's the Rosario!
She tries to turn to engage the English and manages to smash into two of her fellow
ships. She loses her foremast and Drake captures her the next morning."
"You're a veritable Commander Data, and much more fun than
Riker." He raised a brow at Malcolm's confused look, "Never mind.
Would you say you know what's going to happen in the next couple of months?"
"And yet you want to be here? How strange you humans
are. Well, what can I do but grant you your wish? Have a good time,
I'll drop you off just before it gets interesting."
There was another dizzying flash and Malcolm almost fell over
when it subsided. He stumbled, but managed to recover his balance as the
surface he was standing on pitched back to where it had originally been.
When it moved again he was ready and planted his feet accordingly. He blinked
to clear his vision and was confronted by an expanse of water stretching into
the horizon. The floor beneath him moved again and he stepped backwards
quickly, a wooden rail a reassuring addition to his field of view.
"Hey, you alright there?"
Malcolm spun around and was confronted by a familiar face,
but the body was in some very unfamiliar clothes. "Trip?"
The other man looked him over slowly, "Are you okay Malcolm?
You're as white as a sheet."
"I'm so glad you're here too. If we work together maybe
we can get that man's attention and have him take us back to Enterprise."
"Whoa, slow down." Trip gripped Malcolm's shoulders to
hold him in place, "What do you mean 'Enterprise'? Where's that?"
Malcolm looked down at Trip's hand on his own shoulder and
realized he wasn't in his uniform anymore, the clothes he had on felt much coarser,
and they were the same style as what the other sailors were wearing. "You
don't remember Enterprise?"
Trip frowned at him, "Should I?"
The way Malcolm reckoned it he had two options. The first
was that he try and convince Trip that they were from the future and lived on
a spaceship that was hundreds of light years from Earth. The second was
that he play along. He took the easiest route. "No, I guess you wouldn't.
Never mind, it's just some place I was once." Trip was still looking at
him strangely so he threw in an, "I'm fine."
Trip wasn't easily dissuaded, "Are you sure? You're acting
He mustered the best smile he could, "I'm sure." Malcolm
looked about the deck of the vessel they were on and noticed that everyone else
appeared hard at work. He waved an arm to indicate the other men, "We should
get back to work."
Trip nodded and seemed fairly pleased at that statement.
"They need us below."
Malcolm took one step before pausing and sweeping an arm forward,
From the way people hailed him as he passed Malcolm assumed
that he, or someone very much like himself, was a normal fixture aboard the vessel.
The work itself wasn't that complicated, merely moving gear around and cleaning
the guns, so Malcolm was able to pretend he knew what he was doing easily enough.
While Malcolm wasn't particularly fond of boats in general, it wasn't too hard
to keep his mind off the water when he was working below deck, and Trip's easy
banter helped keep him calm as well. He'd almost managed to lull himself
into a false sense of security when shouted orders had them scrambling to ready
the ship's guns. The people around them erupted into a flurry of activity
and Trip grinned at him excitedly, "C'mon Malcolm, let's show those English!"
Trip had scrambled two steps before he realized Malcolm wasn't following.
He turned back uncertainly and found Malcolm standing stock still amongst a flurry
Malcolm felt his heart stop at Trip's excited proclamation.
How he hadn't realized it sooner he didn't know, but from the clothes of the crew
to the ship itself it was completely obvious what side he was on. He supposed
he'd been so busy trying not to think of the water that he'd neglected to think
about the other important things that surrounded him. Grandpa Reed would
be spinning in his cold grave. All at once a sudden, pressing question asserted
itself, "What ship are we on?"
Trip goggled at him, "What?"
"What ship are we on, Trip?"
"You know what ship we're on. Will you stop acting like
Malcolm gripped Trip by his upper arms and shook him as he
shouted, "For once in your life will you just humour me and tell me what ship
Trip appeared stunned at his violent outburst. He gaped
at Malcolm for a moment before he managed to stutter, "San Salvador."
Malcolm went ashen, "The San Salvador?"
Trip nodded slowly. There was another burst of shouting
and he grabbed Malcolm by the wrist, dragging him along as he shouted, "I dunno
what has gotten into you, Malcolm, but it's time to snap out of it because we've
got work to do.
The San Salvador shuddered as it encountered another barrage
of cannon fire from the nearest English ship. Malcolm slipped on the deck,
falling to his knees just in time to hear a tremendous crash as the world around
him erupted in a flurry of debris. There was a stinging pain in his shoulder
and his head bounced painfully off of the deck as Malcolm was knocked fully to
the floor. He righted himself as quickly as possible and surveyed the gaping
hole that had been hewn by the cannonball. "Thank god it missed us, Trip."
There was no reply, "Trip?" Malcolm spun around and found him lying several
metres away. "Oh, Trip."
Malcolm rushed over and knelt beside the man that so resembled
his lover, watching in horror as blood trickled out of the side of Trip's mouth.
He carefully removed some of the debris that was scattered over Trip's chest and
found that one large splinter entered his chest, obviously puncturing the lung.
Trip gave one gurgling breath and slowly opened glassy eyes, "Malcolm?"
"I'm right here, Trip, just hold on. Please hold on."
"I know Trip, but hang on. Be as stubborn as I know you
The crimson blood pooling on the deck told Malcolm all that
he needed to know. Trip was dying, and in 1588 there was nothing Malcolm
could do about it. There was someone who could though, "Hey! Hey you,
come back here!" Malcolm hollered into the air. "We need help!"
"Mal?" The slurred abbreviation of his name turned Malcolm's
attention to the man before him. Trip blinked slowly and appeared to be
trying to say something more.
"It's okay, Trip, I'm just trying to get some help. Stay
Malcolm had started to rip a strip off of his shirt to use
as a makeshift bandage when he heard it. A hissing sound had filled the
air. He tried to throw himself forward to cover Trip's body with his own,
but he was only halfway down when the world shattered. Malcolm was aware
of pain and a sudden feeling of motion before he hit the water with enough force
to knock the air from his lungs. He couldn't hear anything, and his body
was a mass of pain, but he frantically tried to swim anyway. A wave broke
over his head and he began to fully panic, hyperventilating even as he inhaled
water. Malcolm tried to grab onto some of the debris floating near him,
but his arm wouldn't co-operate. He went under, inhaled water, made it to
the surface only to sink again. Malcolm thrashed wildly, but he couldn't
get back to the surface. He writhed and bucked but he couldn't clear the
burning liquid from his lungs. After an eternity spots danced in his vision
and colour faded to grayscale as he passed out. His last thought was the
realization that he was actually in the process of dying.
Malcolm sucked in a gasping lung full of the warm air and rolled
onto his back. He lay still as he panted and trembled, realizing with a
tremendous sense of relief that he was on some sort of hard surface. Somehow,
he vaguely heard a violin. Malcolm cautiously blinked his eyes open and
was confronted by an expanse of white save for the violin. It was hanging
in mid-air softly playing the type of music that was a staple of the tragic scenes
in Trip's archaic movies.
"Well, well, well. Was it everything that you'd imagined
it would be?"
Malcolm rolled over and quickly stood up to face the smug looking
man in front of him. "How could you do that?" Malcolm felt the adrenaline
surge anew as he yelled at the alien before him. "You killed him!
You killed them all!"
Q merely smiled, "Don't be silly! I didn't kill anyone."
Malcolm still looked furious so he continued in a condescending tone, "Tell me,
Lieutenant Reed, what do your history books tell you should have happened?"
Malcolm deflated slightly as he remembered the footnote from
his grandfather's book, "The San Salvador caught fire and its powder store exploded
on the 31st of July. 200 were killed and the ship was abandoned before being
captured by the English."
Q nodded, "You see, exactly what happened."
"But what about Trip?"
"What about him? People are killed in wars. Wanton
acts of base barbarianism I tell you."
"You can't kill him!"
The alien scoffed, "I can if I want to. You said you
wanted to see what it was like in 1588 and I showed you. You don't like
it, too bad. Would you have preferred I dropped you here?"
There was another flash and Malcolm found himself submerged
in water yet again. Overcome with the same blind panic as before he screamed,
losing all his air in a thick stream of bubbles. He kicked out with his
feet and was surprised to feel them hit something, propelling his upper body out
of the water. He flailed, forcing his violently trembling limbs to help
him stay upright in the waist deep water. A wave hit him and he stumbled
into the water again before he got his footing and righted himself. "Easy,
Malcolm." A hand gripped his upper arm and held him upright as he coughed
and spluttered. "It would be senseless to drown this close to shore."
Malcolm turned sideways and was confronted by the wet, haggard, but very much
alive, face of Trip. Malcolm couldn't help himself and Trip seemed rather
surprised when he launched himself into the other man's arms and hugged tightly.
"I thought you were dead!"
At that Trip hugged him back, "Not me, Malcolm." Another
frigid wave rolled into them and they separated, struggling to shore with the
other survivors. It was only when he had solid, dry land beneath his feet
that Malcolm turned to look at the ocean behind him. The sea and sky were
slate grey and pieces of debris could be seen bobbing in the whitecaps which stretched
into the horizon. Men were laboriously making their way to shore, some in
small boats, some clinging to pieces of wood as they swam.
Malcolm quelled his chattering teeth as best he could and tried
again, "We really should leave."
"They'll be looking for us."
"But it's dark." Malcolm could sense the look Trip was
giving him. "We can't travel through unknown countryside when it's pitch
black out, Malcolm. Besides, everyone else is here." Trip trailed
off and a muted cacophony of muttering and rustling was testament to the other
survivors huddled in clumps around them.
Malcolm sighed. This Trip was just as obstinate as the
one on Enterprise. "Fine, but one of us has to be awake at all times."
Trip huffed, but Malcolm refused to relent, "I mean it, Trip. We're on enemy
"Thanks for reminding me, I'd forgotten completely."
Malcolm stiffened at his sarcasm and Trip hurried to acquiesce before Malcolm
got snippy, "Okay, okay, but you've got first watch. I need to get some
"Fine." They shifted so that they were huddled together
out of the wind, trying to stay as warm as possible. After a while Trip's
breathing even out and his head lolled as he slept. Malcolm stared into
the darkness, cursing the thick clouds that obscured the night sky. Stargazing
had often helped keep him alert through night watches on Earth during survival
training. Malcolm slowly felt exhaustion overtake him to the point that
he was almost too tired and cold to shake Trip awake. He blinked, and blinked
again. Were his eyes open or closed? He didn't know anymore.
Malcolm slowly drifted off to sleep.
Malcolm couldn't say how long he'd been sleeping, but a loud
noise woke him suddenly. He sat up quickly, barely taking in Trip stirring
beside him, before he froze. There, on a small bluff overlooking the beach,
were two ensigns bearing the standard of Queen Elizabeth. Malcolm put a
hand on Trip's shoulder to keep him still and slowly surveyed the area.
They were surrounded.
"Malcolm?" Trip's voice sounded very small. Malcolm
had never heard the normally self confident man sound so afraid.
"Shhh. Look." He pointed out two of their fellow
sailors who were slowly approaching the men that looked to be in charge of the
"What's gonna happen, Malcolm?" Trip kept his voice low.
"We're going to surrender. They'll confiscate our arms
and march us away from here." Malcolm carefully injected a measure of confidence
into his voice. He felt Trip's hand carefully search out his own and grip
it tightly. Perhaps their relationship here was the same as on Enterprise.
Or as close to the same as it could be in 1588.
The Spanish spokesmen had just reached the Englishmen when
they were stopped by a pair of soldiers. Malcolm saw a man on horseback
nod his head, obviously a signal, a mere second before the soldiers stepped forward
and ran the men through with their blades. All hell broke loose.
Malcolm leapt to his feet and hauled Trip up beside him, working
quickly to keep them from being trampled by the panicked sailors. Malcolm
and Trip were swept up in a seething wave of men running as fast as their weary
legs could carry them. Jostled, shoved, his feet sometimes lifted clear
off of the ground, Malcolm felt his fingers slowly slip out of Trip's grasp from
the force of the crowd. He yelled for his lover, but couldn't hear a reply
over the screams of the men who had fallen behind. It was only when he felt
his feet slipping over small stones that he realized where the mass of men were
"No!" He bellowed as loudly as he could, but his mouth
was pressed against the rough cloth that covered the back of the man in front
of him. "No! Damn it, no!" Malcolm spun around as best he could, hitting
those nearby until they started to go around him. He fought them, working
against the surging tide of people. All at once he broke out the back of
the crowd, slipping and sliding on the wet stones of the beach. Malcolm's
head whipped up as he scanned the area, looking for any escape route. What
he saw instead made his blood run cold.
Trip was kneeling on the scrubby grass, he'd obviously tripped
and been overrun by the horde of men. An English soldier stood over him,
sword in hand, and Trip was looking his enemy in the face, offering a silent plea
for his life. As Malcolm watched in horror the Englishman raised his right
arm, "No!" Malcolm's cry had no effect. The sword swung down and Trip
crumpled on the ground, his unseeing eyes turned towards the beach. "No
you bastards!" The men behind Malcolm had launched their shattered boats.
The overloaded vessels took to the sea as the men chose almost certain drowning
over certain death on the beach. Malcolm's voice was raised in an inarticulate
cry as he ran straight towards the Englishmen. Their yelling filled his
ears and he dimly realized that it was gibberish, he couldn't understand their
language. When he was three metres away from the first soldier he closed
his eyes and kept on running at full speed.
*clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp* His footsteps rang on a
solid floor and the sudden silence was as startling as a scream. Malcolm
stopped running and opened his eyes to find himself confronted by an expanse of
"That wasn't the most tactically clever move you've ever made,
Malcolm swung around to yell at the source of the derisive
comment, "You bloody bastard!" Malcolm could feel himself trembling violently,
"What in the bloody hell was that? We surrendered!"
Q held up an admonishing finger, "Language, Lieutenant."
He smiled his cold smile as he continued, "I was merely showing you page 464."
There was a flash of light as Malcolm's book appeared in Q's hands and a reading
light hovered overhead. Q affixed an archaic pair of reading glasses to
the bridge of his nose and proceeded to read, "A number of vessels were lost in
this region. The deputy marshal of the time, Robert Fowle, acting on the
orders of the lord deputy summarily executed roughly two hundred men. An
act which drove the remaining survivors to attempt to escape by sea." Q
shut the book with an audible snap, " 'Summarily executed'. It doesn't quite
have the same ring as 'murdered' or 'butchered' does it?"
Malcolm's sharp retort was forestalled as he remembered the
look on Trip's face. He closed his eyes in defeat and answered weakly, "No."
"There, I'm so glad to have finally met a human who will agree
with me. Now, if you'll just..." He trailed off as Malcolm inexplicably
began to laugh. Q raised an eyebrow and stared at Malcolm for a moment before
he finally snapped out, "What?"
"This, oh, all of this." Malcolm caught his breath and
continued, "I haven't had this happen in years."
Q peered at him through narrowed eyes, "What happen?"
"Getting so caught up in a nightmare. I almost fancied
I'd outgrown it entirely."
"A nightmare? You mean you don't think this is real?"
"Or course not!"
Q affected a patronizing tone, "And why weren't those places,
ships and people real?"
Malcolm proceeded to begin pinching himself repeatedly as he
explained, "They can't be real because I've seen the same man die twice, which
is impossible. That means you're not real either. I'm just dreaming
or hallucinating, all I've got to do is wake up."
"Hallucinating!" The alien chuckled for a moment before
he continued, "I suppose next you'll tell me I'm just a bit of undigested beef!"
He took two slow steps towards Malcolm and his smile was almost predatory, "Oh
Mr. Reed, I can assure you I am quite real. I thought that what I've shown
you already would be enough to prove my point, but it seems like you might need
a little more convincing. I wouldn't waste your time trying to wake up,
because it won't work. Enjoy your next stop in 1588, I'm sure it will be
There was another blinding flash and when the now familiar
spots cleared Malcolm found himself laying with his cheek pressed against a well
worn plank. He was back aboard a ship.
"Malcolm!" The voice was painfully familiar and Malcolm
closed his eyes in defeat. He didn't think he could go through this again.
"What the hell are you still doing here?" Malcolm felt
a hand grasp his upper arm and haul him to his feet. Trip's face was mere
centimetres from his own, but it was so dark that it was only his tone of voice
that told Malcolm he was at once both furious and relieved. A crackling
sound drowned out the cacophony of background noise and Malcolm spun around, extracting
himself from Trip's grasp as he did so. The sight beyond the rail of the
ship froze him to the spot. Orange and gold flames were reflected on the
black water as a number of ships, all well ablaze, rocked on the waves.
The flames on the lead vessel leapt higher and there was a loud report, a gun
had gone off by itself. Malcolm let himself become mesmerized by the flames
even as the wind drove the burning vessels towards him. Hands suddenly clamped
down on his shoulders and spun him back around, "Malcolm! We've got to go."
"Go?" Malcolm was so disoriented by the recent set of
events it was like he was trying to process a world in which time was passing
much too quickly.
"Get off of the ship!" Exasperation tinged with fear
was present in Trip's voice, "Everyone else has gone! I was in a boat as
we were lowering it and then I realized you weren't there. I had to climb
back up and then I find you just laying on the deck. What happened?
Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine. Fine. I just..." Malcolm ceased his
stammering as he realized that he could now just make out Trip's features in the
light cast by the vessels. He cast a quick glance over his shoulder and
found that they had indeed grown much closer. Malcolm's brow furrowed, this
didn't make sense, "Why are we still here?"
Trip's face had a look of disbelief on it, "I don't know!
You're the one who wasn't in a boat with everyone else."
"No, why is the ship still here?"
"Because the anchor is fouled. You know that Malcolm,
now come on." Trip tugged insistently on his arm but Malcolm stood fast.
"Why didn't we cut the cable? All the other ships must
have. 'The English fireships caused the panicked Spanish fleet to cut their
anchor cables and drift downwind. In the resulting confusion many ships
rammed each other.' I don't remember reading about this."
"What on Earth are you talking about Malcolm? Have you
gone mad?" Trip's face was growing ever brighter and the crackling of burning
timbers more oppressive as the lead ship drew nearer.
"This isn't supposed to happen, Trip."
"Well it damn well sure is happening, Malcolm." Trip's
face was filled with an expression of horror as he suddenly yanked Malcolm towards
himself and away from the side of the ship. Malcolm spun around in his grasp
and gasped at the heat that scorched his face. They backpedaled on the deck
as the first burning vessel bore down on their own. There was a crunching
of burnt timbers and a thud as the two collided. They couldn't see the vessel
itself as it was smaller than their own, but the flames from it licked the edge
of their deck. "Now Malcolm!" He let Trip lead him and followed the
other man's direction to grab a nearby coil of rope. He watched as Trip
tied one end of it to a large wooden hatch that had been left loose on deck.
"Help me get this over the side." Trip squatted and got a firm grasp on
one side of it just as Malcolm realized what he meant to do with it. "Malcolm?"
Trip looked up in puzzlement as Malcolm slowly backed away shaking his head.
"What do you mean 'no'? This is our only chance, Malcolm,
so you'd better help me get this over the side and pray that we can get picked
up or make it to shore kicking."
"I... I can't. I just can't, Trip." And he couldn't.
If he went in the water he would panic, try to climb up on Trip, and likely drown
the man. Drown them both. "You go, Trip, but I can't."
"I'm not leaving you here, Malcolm." Trip was aghast.
"You're coming with me if I have to pick you up and throw you over the side myself."
Malcolm held his hands up in front of himself, "No."
Trip began to advance on him slowly, "No!" Malcolm gave into the rising
panic and lashed out as soon as Trip was within range, catching the man across
Trip held his smarting jaw and looked at Malcolm with wide
eyes. In the low light his normally bright eyes looked almost black, "You
hit me." There was a level of wonder present in the tone.
Malcolm took a shuddering breath, "I can't go in the water,
Trip. I'd just drown us both."
"At least we'd be together." The words were barely more
than a whisper and Malcolm had to stain to hear them over the roar of the fire
and the noises carrying over the surface of the water.
"Not in the water, Trip." Malcolm kept backing up all
the while and all at once he felt himself run into something solid. It was
a mast. Malcolm felt some sort of rigging by him so he got a firm grasp
and scrambled up to a few metres above the deck.
"Malcolm! Get down here!"
"No!" Malcolm's voice was desperate and he was aware
of the ominous heat and crackling of the deck below him. It was possible
a lower deck was already alight. Trip moved to stand beneath him and Malcolm
watched as he reached out and tested the rigging for himself. "If you try
to climb up and get me down I'll kick you off. So help me, I'll kick you
until you fall back down Trip Tucker."
Trip paused and stared up at Malcolm for a moment, the
air around him growing stiflingly hot and smoky. "Please come down, Malcolm.
I'm not going to leave you. I just want us to have a chance. I love
Malcolm's voice was a choked whisper, "I just can't.
I..." He was cut off as there was a sudden cracking noise and Trip disappeared,
a gaping hole in the deck appearing in his stead. Flames licked up from
below and a horrible screaming cry filled the air. Malcolm felt his heart
stop, but he forced himself to holler out what he had started to say, "I love
The terrible noise finally weakened and stopped and Malcolm
forced his trembling limbs to make him climb higher and higher. On one level
he was fairly certain he was in shock, but the reality of what he had just witnessed
kept his mind from rational trains of thought. He finally couldn't climb
any more so he did the only thing he could.
Over his gulping sobs he began to scream, "Hey! Hey you!
Get me out of here! Please! This isn't right! Stop this!
I know you can, just stop it, please!" He'd never thought he'd be one to
go out pleading, but if this was finally the real ending he couldn't bring himself
"This isn't supposed to happen! I can't..." Malcolm's
desperate cry was cut off in a painful cough as palls of acrid smoke wafted over
him. Malcolm began to hyperventelate, trying to make himself pass out and
suffocate before he could get too badly burned. He tightly shut his tearing
eyes and buried his nose in the fabric at the crook of his arm. His head
began to swim and he fuzzily tried to command his limbs to keep holding on.
As the swimming turned into spinning he felt his limbs go slack and was overwhelmed
by the feeling of free fall. The sound of the ocean filled his ears.
Waves were softly lapping at the shore and he could hear the
hum of a distant motorboat. "That's it, lad, give it a good big push."
Malcolm opened his eyes to watch his seven year old self send an object out to
sea. "Great job! You got it way out there." Malcolm looked skeptically
at the object bobbing quite near to shore, but the younger version of himself
noticeably brightened at the praise. There was a scraping and crunching
of pebbles as his grandfather came down to the water's edge from where he'd been
standing at the high tide line, "Try this one next." The grown Malcolm watched
in awe as his grandfather handed him another piece of wood with a bundle of dried
grasses tied to it. He'd almost forgotten this evening from so many years
ago. Madeline was there too, her long white blond hair ruffling in the warm
summer breeze. He was standing behind the three of them, no, he was a bit
above them too. Hanging there. Just watching.
"Go!" The seven year old Malcolm sent the wood skimming
out to join the other one from a safe position ankle deep in the ocean, chortling
with glee when the two collided.
"And this one too." He grabbed the wood proffered by
his grandfather and deftly shoved it away from shore, making sure to keep the
grass heaped on the top side dry.
"Now what have we got?"
"The Spanish!" Malcolm watched himself give a small scowl
as his little sister beat him to the answer.
"That's right, love, now you rein in that hair of yours and
I'll get the matches so your big brother can sink them." Malcolm's grandfather
withdrew a small, and terribly old fashioned in the grown Malcolm's opinion, packet
of matches from his pocket and handed it to the boy. "Now take one out,
that's it. I'll hold this while you light it. Careful you don't burn
yourself. Good, now light the bit of grass up at the front." A thin
trail of smoke started to rise from the "boat" and his grandfather quickly transferred
it to his grandson's hands. "Now take careful aim and send it out to hit
The younger Malcolm daringly waded out a bit further, wanting
to make sure he managed to light the other boats. He set the now flaming
object in the water and gave it a careful shove before scurrying back to shore.
It careened into the nearest "Spanish ship" hard enough to knock some of its own
burning grass onto the other, setting it alight. "That's it, Malcolm!"
"Burn!" Madeline's voice joined his own and the two chanted
together as a second "Spanish ship" was bumped by a flaming one long enough to
catch on fire, "Burn, burn, burn, burn!"
His grandfather was smiling at the children's antics.
He gently put a hand on Malcolm's shoulder to catch the child's attention, "You
see, Malcolm, they used to make fireships and send them towards enemy ships riding
at anchor. Do you know what happened in 1588?"
"The Spanish Armada." The young Malcolm's chest puffed
up as he proudly showed off what he knew.
"Good lad." His grandfather adopted the tone of voice
that had always accompanied his storytelling, "The Spanish ships were anchored
off Calais. Then, in the middle of the night, we launched fireships against
them. The fireships were blown towards the Spanish and they panicked.
They cut their anchor cables, tried to raise sails, rammed each other."
His grandfather clapped his hands together to simulate a collision and an adoring
Malcolm looked on enthralled. "We swept down on them and fought them in
the battle of Gravelines! Frobisher was there! Drake was there on
the Revenge! We fought them until we ran out of ammunition!" An excited
squawk from Madeline accompanied the third ship catching fire and the young Malcolm
turned back to watch the scene on the water, his grandfather standing right beside
Suddenly there was far too much smoke coming from the burning
"boats." Madeline and the younger Malcolm didn't seem to notice, they were
laughing and jumping around, egged on by their grandfather. It was so thick
it quickly obscured the three figures, causing Malcolm's eyes to smart.
He tried to move, but found himself immobilized above the beach. The cloud
of smoke became thicker until Malcolm couldn't see anything but swirling black
and grey. He suddenly found that he could shut his eyes so he closed them
tightly and tried to breathe shallowly so that he didn't choke on the contaminated
air. It was disturbingly similar to where he had just come from.
"I just want to go home. I just want to go back to Enterprise."
It was the mantra that he chanted over and over in his head. Slowly, by
degrees, the air didn't seem so bitter. When it got to the point that it
was more the memory of the scent in his nostrils than actual smoke he opened his
eyes. The electric lights caused the bulkheads to gleam softly and the deck
was a reassuringly familiar metal under his feet. He was home.
Malcolm took a step and slid slightly on his stockinged feet.
Socks, the sleeves of his uniform knotted about his waist and his black shirt
half unbuttoned, Malcolm was dressed exactly as he had been in his quarters.
It seemed like years ago now. He stopped dead in the corridor for a moment
as his now wary mind allowed itself to be convinced that he was indeed back.
He had a sudden, heart stopping flashback to the burning ship and when it passed
he began to run, his feet slipping as his socks afforded little traction on the
"I don't wanna hear it, Cap'n." Trip scowled at his friend
who was trying hard not to laugh and failing.
Jon held his hands up in front of him in mock surrender, "I'm
sorry, Trip. I'll never understand how you always manage to get so far behind
"Hey now, I've been busy!" Trip stabbed the air with
his index finger to make his point.
"Trip, we're in between star systems, the engine has been working
perfectly for the past month, and Malcolm hasn't come up with any plans on how
to improve our weapons in at least two weeks. What on Earth have you been
doing every evening?" Trip flushed a deep red and his eyes inadvertently
flicked over to his bunk. Jon's jaw dropped before he shut it and gulped
involuntarily, "Oh man forget I said that because I really don't want to know."
Trip recovered from his embarrassment and chuckled, "Serves
you right for prying. I'm guessing that's a mental image that will take
a while to go away." Now Jon was the one scowling as he pressed his fingers
firmly against his closed eyes until he saw bursts of colour. Trip just
laughed and motioned Porthos over, petting the dog when he came within range.
After lavishing his full attention on the animal for a minute or so he shook the
dog hair off his fingers and sat up straight in his chair, reaching above his
head to stretch his tired muscles.
Trip nodded, "And half of it was spent crawling around in spaces
barely fit for someone Hoshi's size."
Jon winced in sympathy, "We'd better get on with our walk then."
Trip grinned at his friend and nodded, "I'll be up late enough
as it is trying to finish these. I don't want to catch hell from my boss."
Jon's laugh was cut short as the door to Trip's cabin slid
open unannounced and a blur of blue and black hurtled into the room. Porthos
gave a startled yelp as he was shoved out of the way and Jon gaped as the blur
resolved itself into his armoury officer. Malcolm had entered the room like
a sprinter coming off the blocks and he'd hit Trip hard enough to cause an audible
"woof" of exhaled breath before proceeding to wrap every limb he had around Trip
and clinging tightly. Trip's arms came up on their own volition and wrapped
around the man in his arms. Jon was disturbed to see that Malcolm was shaking
"Malcolm?" Instead of replying to Trip's query Malcolm
gave a small choked cry and buried his face further into the crook of Trip's neck.
"Are you okay, Mal?" There was no response so Trip turned worried eyes to
"Lieutenant Reed." Even the note of command had no effect
so Jon hurried over to the comm, "Archer to Phlox." He was unable to keep
the worry from his tone.
"Phlox here, Captain."
"Could you come to Trip's quarters right away? Malcolm
just burst in here, he's not saying anything and he seems," Jon cast a glance
at the trembling man, "disturbed."
"I'll be right there."
Jon and Trip barely moved while they waited for the doctor
to arrive, both were afraid of making the situation worse. After what seemed
like an inordinate amount of time the door chirped before opening with the medical
override code. Phlox had his scanner in hand even as he crossed the threshold
into the room. As he ran it repeatedly over the lieutenant his frown slowly
deepened until neither Trip nor Jon could bear the tension.
The doctor shrugged in apparent confusion as he placed his
scanner in the pocket of his shirt. "As far as I can tell with this equipment,
there doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong with Mr. Reed." Jon's
surprised gaze met Trip's and he stepped closer to his best friend. "Perhaps
we can try to get Mr. Reed to talk to us?"
Jon nodded and placed a hand on Malcolm's shoulder, shaking
him gently, "Malcolm? Malcolm it's Captain Archer." When that didn't
have much of an effect he gripped Malcolm's shoulder more firmly and tried to
pull him away from Trip. It was like trying to pry a limpet off a rock and
when he finally broke free he visibly started before blinking owlishly at the
people around him. He peered at them for a moment before he suddenly scowled.
"Well this is just great!" Malcolm rolled his eyes heavenward,
"You just had to have the captain here to see that. Bloody marvellous touch."
"Shut up." Jon's mouth closed with an audible snap and
Malcolm continued, "Haven't you put me through enough? I get it, okay.
There's nothing glorious about war. It's horrible. What else do you
want me to say? I renounce my idolization of humanity's barbaric past?
Long enough words for you?"
"Mal?" Trip cautiously placed his hand on Malcolm's shoulder.
Malcolm started again at the touch before placing his own over it and gripping
"What are you going to do now? Are you going to have
a bunch of them run in through the door and beat him to death? Rip his heart
out and hand it to me?" Tears began to leak out of the corners of his eyes
as his crewmates looked on in shock. "What kind of satisfaction are you
getting out of this you twisted bastard?"
Trip placed his other hand on Malcolm's free shoulder and tentatively
whispered in his lover's ear, "Who are you talking to, Malcolm?"
Malcolm spun around to face Trip and when he spoke his voice
broke half way through the word, "Him." A frown of confusion furrowed Trip's
brow and Malcolm suddenly threw himself back into Trip's arms and hugged so tightly
the other man gasped, "Just, please, let me go home. I can't go through
it again. I want us to be safe. I just want to be home."
There was a sharp pinch at his neck and a hiss before the world
slowly went dark.
"...just a hallucination..."
Malcolm felt himself floating. It was as if he'd been
cast adrift and his body was just fading in and out. He wondered vaguely
if this was what being dead felt like. He was pretty sure he'd died in the
fire. The fire.
Malcolm started awake, wrenching his arms as he tried to sit
up and found himself securely held down. "Whoa, Malcolm." The shock
was plain in Trip's voice and Malcolm let the hand on his chest gently press him
back down to the biobed he was laying on. "Doc, he's awake." Approaching
footsteps were heard and then Phlox and the captain joined Trip in his line of
"How are you feeling, Lieutenant?"
"Fine, a bit groggy." Malcolm took a more careful inventory
of himself and his brow furrowed, "Why am I in restraints?"
Trip grimaced at the question and the captain looked apologetic.
Phlox answered in his normal tone, "Considering the state we found you in we weren't
sure how you'd be when you woke."
"Oh." Malcolm vaguely remembered breaking down in Trip's
quarters, "Can you let me out now?"
Trip gave the doctor a glance at Malcolm's hopeful look and
the doctor acquiesced. "I think that is permissible."
They unbuckled him and Malcolm sat up, rubbing a chafed wrist
for a moment before addressing the captain in a businesslike manner, "Captain,
I have to return to duty. There could be an intruder loose on Enterprise
"Yes. Roughly your height, dark hair, human in appearance.
He referred to himself as being omnipotent and..." Malcolm's description
was cut short as Jon held up a forestalling hand.
"Malcolm, we ran internal sensor sweeps after we got you to
sickbay, there's no one else on the ship."
"Well, in that case I would like to post security personnel
at key areas throughout the ship in case he returns."
Jon cast a sideways glance at the doctor, "I'll consider it,
but first can you tell us what happened to make you so upset?"
Malcolm huffed in frustration at the delay before forcing himself
to recall the nightmarish events. "I was in my quarters. I'd just
settled down to read a book when there was a flash of light and he appeared.
I tried to comm the armoury, but it didn't work. He was wearing an old naval
uniform of all things, and he said he was here to grant me a wish. Then
there were voices in the cabin."
Malcolm nodded, "It was you and I. The conversation we
had about time travel, when I said I'd want to see 1588." Trip nodded slowly
in remembrance so Malcolm continued, "He took me there, Trip. There were
Spanish galleons and everything, but then I was on the San Salvador and you were
killed and the powder blew and I drowned. It was awful, but that wasn't
enough. I woke up in this white place and then he dropped me back on a beach
and you were alive again and then we were killed again the next day." Malcolm
visibly shook at the memory and had to stop his narrative. He felt Trip
slip a hand over one of his own and squeeze reassuringly. Malcolm returned
the grip as if it was a lifeline.
"The human mind can sometimes generate very vivid and terrifying
Malcolm shot Phlox a sharp look, "It wasn't a nightmare!
I never even went to sleep."
"Well maybe he was a time traveller? We've run into them
before." Trip was anxious to find a rational explanation for Malcolm's unnerving
Malcolm slowly shook his head, "I don't think that's possible.
I mean, he did show me playing with Madeline and my grandfather when I was little,
but the time in 1588 before that was all wrong. The whole crew was gone,
but the boats couldn't have held everyone. Not to mention the fact that
it's inconceivable that a ship of that size wouldn't have anything that could
be used to cut the anchor cable. Then the fire spread far too quickly and
I can't recall reading about a ship catching on fire from those fireships."
Malcolm looked up from where he'd been staring at his hand entwined with Trip's,
"Plus you were there, love, and I don't think you and I had identical ancestors
on different ships in the Spanish Armada."
"You don't have any history of visual or auditory hallucinations,
do you Lieutenant?"
"No, of course not." He dismissed the doctor's query
and turned back to his commanding officer, "Captain, this is serious! He
could just show up again and kidnap someone else. He seemed to know all
about me as well, the security risk is unimaginable." The captain's gaze
flickered around the room and his jaw gave a nervous twitch. A shocking
realization hit Malcolm and he froze in place, "You don't believe me."
Jon grimaced apologetically at the whispered accusation and
softly explained, "Sensors didn't pick up anything. T'Pol has gone through
the logs three times. The time doesn't work either. There was only
half an hour in between you comming Trip to wish him happy writing and you turning
up in his quarters."
"Half an hour." Malcolm muttered the duration in disbelief.
He shook his head as if to clear it and then fixed Jon and Trip with a piercing
gaze, "It wasn't a nightmare."
Phlox cleared his throat, "It is quite late. Perhaps
we should retire for the evening, hmmm?"
The captain couldn't meet Malcolm's eyes, "I'm afraid you're
confined to sickbay until further notice, Lieutenant." Jon stood abruptly
and walked from the room.
"It wasn't a nightmare. I'm telling you, you've got to
Trip cast a quick, worried glance at his lover before hurrying
after his friend. Malcolm flopped back onto the biobed and closed his eyes.
One last whisper escaped him as Phlox dimmed the lights for the night, "It wasn't
Malcolm shifted uneasily on the biobed and
tried to look as sane as possible while trying to hide the fact that he was eavesdropping.
His subterfuge didn't seem to work as the hapless crewman gave him a distinctly
nervous look before scurrying out of sickbay. Malcolm sighed and flopped
back on the biobed. It was hopeless anyway, even with his ear to the door
he doubted he'd be able to hear anything more than the occasional impassioned
yet indistinct squawk from Trip. The captain and the doctor were much better
at keeping to a reasonable tone of voice.
The door to the doctor's office finally slid open and Phlox
and the captain came out, trailed by a dejected looking Trip. Malcolm felt
his heart sink at the grim look on his lover's face, it didn't seem like the meeting
had gone well. They pulled up chairs around his biobed and from his perch
Malcolm felt like some specimen on display at an archaic circus sideshow.
He looked down and swung his feet slightly, unsure what to say to start the proceedings.
It was Trip that broke the silence.
"You're still sure it wasn't a nightmare?"
"I know the difference between reality and a nightmare."
Of that Malcolm was sure. He'd had a nightmare about his time in 1588 last
night, and as tempting as it was to declare it all a bad dream and be released
from sickbay, he couldn't do it because the security risk the alien posed was
"And you're sure it wasn't time travel because we've run into
that before?" Trip was clearly getting desperate.
"I'm sure." There had been too many impossibilities,
not to mention inaccuracies, for it to be proper time travel.
"Oh. Okay then." Trip's defeated posture slumped
even more as he fiddled with the zipper on his sleeve.
There was a rustling as they all shifted uneasily for a moment
before the captain broke the silence, "Phlox still can't find any trace of a physical
reason for your experiences." Jon forced himself to meet his subordinate's
eyes as he continued, "Based on your behaviour last night and your psychiatric
evaluation from this morning I'm going to have to relieve you of duty indefinitely.
You are also prohibited from roaming the ship unescorted."
"But sir, the alien could..."
The captain's face was pinched as he held up a forestalling
hand and cut Malcolm off, "I've got T'Pol monitoring internal sensor sweeps, if
anything happens we'll know right away." He let out a gust of breath before
continuing in an apologetic tone, "I want to find something, Malcolm, I really
do, but the evidence just isn't there right now. I'm sorry."
Malcolm nodded slowly and fought to maintain his composure.
"Can I go to my quarters?"
When the captain began to shake his head Trip turned to his
friend, "I'm off duty, Cap'n, I can stay with him." Jon cast a sideways
glance at the doctor and Phlox nodded his acquiescence.
"Okay, but Trip has to be with you at all times. We'll
all walk you there and Phlox can make sure you're okay in your cabin when we arrive.
If Trip has to go to engineering for some reason he's to bring you back to sickbay
first." Malcolm and Trip nodded in unison and the meeting broke up.
Malcolm hopped off the biobed as the rest of them stowed their chairs before they
set off for his quarters together.
Malcolm's hand faltered in front of his
door chime. He suddenly wasn't so sure he wanted to go back to where it
had all started, his quarters didn't seem so secure any more. Aware of the
scrutiny of the people around him he steeled himself and punched in his code.
The door slid open and he stepped inside only to freeze. There was an unfamiliar
splash of colour on his bunk.
"Malcolm?" He'd stopped so suddenly Trip had walked right
into him. Wordlessly Malcolm stepped to the side to allow the others to
file into the small room. "Cap'n!" Archer turned to look where his
friend indicated and his sharp inhalation of air was audible. Phlox
stepped forward and ran a scanner over the object.
"Phlox?" Archer's tone held a note of disbelief in it.
"Nothing." The doctor shook his head slowly.
"What do ya mean, 'nothing'?" Trip spoke up from where
he was gripping Malcolm's arm tightly.
"I mean I'm not reading any traces of alien DNA or foreign
substances on it. It's like it just appeared there out of thin air."
"It probably did." Malcolm broke free of Trip's grasp
and slowly walked towards his bunk. He reached out and picked up the object,
running a finger almost reverently over a section of the gold trim.
"Malcolm?" The question was clear as Archer deferred
to his officer's superior store of knowledge.
"It's an admiral's bicorn hat. Royal Navy, early nineteenth
century." Malcolm turned around slowly, still fingering the trim, "He was
wearing it when he first appeared in my room."
"Oh Malcolm." The hat slipped from Malcolm's grasp and
dropped to the deck as Trip gathered him up into a tight hug. As he returned
the embrace Malcolm could feel Trip literally shaking with relief.
"Malcolm..." The captain stooped and retrieved the small
object that had rolled out of the hat when it hit the ground. It was a small
roll of real paper with a red ribbon tied around it. Malcolm disentangled
himself from his lover and took the proffered roll. He deftly untied the
ribbon and uncurled the small sheet. Two sentences were written in elaborate
black calligraphy. Malcolm cleared his throat and read aloud softly,
"Well old chap, how does it feel to be one of the few enlightened
individuals amongst the barbarians? Don't bother trying to thank me, I won't
be stopping by again."
In the silence that followed Malcolm noticed something out
of place on his shelf. Next to his bottle of scotch lay an open book.
He dropped the paper and ribbon on his bunk and opened the door to his storage
closet, rummaging around until he surfaced with a box. He sat on his bunk
and punched in the code that caused the catch to audibly unlock. Malcolm
took a breath and slowly raised the lid. The box was empty.
Malcolm raised his head and met the three curious gazes, "When
I was eleven my grandfather gave me a book of naval history, I've read it
more times than I can count." He indicated the open box on the bed, "I always
keep it locked away safe, it's rather special to me." Jon and Trip nodded
slowly so he continued, "After," he faltered and continued, "after we died
on the beach he had it with him. He read to me from page 464." Malcolm
pointed to the shelf, "I've never left it out there."
Jon walked over and regarded the open page for a moment before
speaking, "A number of vessels were lost in this region. The deputy marshal
of the time..."
"That same passage." He closed his eyes and composed
himself before asking, "So you believe me now?"
"Gawd yes, Malcolm." Trip dropped down onto the bunk
behind him and put his arms around Malcolm's chest.
The captain shared a look with Phlox before speaking for them
both, "We believe you, Malcolm, and I think I owe you an apology for not listening
to you earlier."
Malcolm shook his head slowly, "I somehow doubt I'd have believed
me, sir, with the evidence that was there. I understand that you thought
that you were doing what was best, and I appreciate the sensor sweeps that were
checked and re-checked."
Jon nodded slowly, still feeling uncomfortable with his actions.
"Do you believe him when he says he won't be back?"
Malcolm thought for a moment before replying carefully, "I
think so, sir, but it's not as if there's anything we can do as he doesn't seem
to show up on sensors at all."
"Okay." Jon took note of how Trip was clinging to Malcolm
and gave them both a weak smile, "You're both relieved of duty. Take a day
or two off, you deserve it."
"Thank you, sir." Malcolm's voice was little more than
a whisper. Jon cast one last look at his two officers before ushering the
doctor out the door with him. It was clear that Trip and Malcolm needed
some time alone.
A warm puff of breath ruffled the hair at
the back of his neck and Malcolm smiled. "Phase pistol for your thoughts?"
Malcolm bit back a chuckle at Trip's offer and carefully rolled over to face his
lover. Trip propped himself up on one elbow and used his free hand to smooth
an errant lock of hair back from Malcolm's forehead.
"I was thinking about why."
"Why he had me go through that."
"Oh." Trip gauged the look in Malcolm's eyes before continuing
cautiously, "What did you come up with?"
"He said something about trying to make a point." Malcolm
shifted slightly on the bunk before continuing, "I think... I think I'd never
realized what war is like. I mean, I grew up in a time of peace, so it was
easy to glorify what happened in 1588, even though the reality was awful.
The senseless deaths, killing people when they just wanted to surrender."
Malcolm gave a small mirthless laugh, "You'd think that with my job I'd know better,
but I idolized ancient officers and the battles they fought. Ever since
I was little I was taught to identify with the victors. I was told how we
heroically defeated the Spanish Armada. I never thought about being on the
other side of the English guns. I never thought about what it was actually
like. I never dwelt on what it meant to be 'summarily executed'."
"What do you think now?"
Malcolm let out a long breath before he spoke, "I think I can
admire their courage, and not just Drake's, but his crew's as well. I can
appreciate their tactics and even learn something from them. But most importantly
of all I hope I never have to witness war again."
Trip leant down and planted a gentle kiss on Malcolm's forehead,
his hand caressing one of Malcolm's cheekbones. He leaned into the touch
so Trip gathered Malcolm into a loose embrace and whispered softly into his ear,
"You and me both." Malcolm muttered something indistinct which could have
been "love you." Trip smiled and freed a hand long enough to switch off
the cabin lights before going back to stroking Malcolm's hair until the other
man's breathing even out and he fell asleep. Trip gently bestowed one last
kiss on Malcolm's face before allowing himself to fall into a very light slumber.
He wanted to wake when the nightmares reared their ugly heads. It was his
turn to help his lover sleep.