Title: Shades of Love
Author: Joules Mer
Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net
Date: Posted to EntSTSlash December 25, 2004
Archive: Everyone else ask first.
Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise and Chromiumblue.com
Pairing: Tu/R, Owen/Sir G
Summary: Malcolm gets a little help from an unlikely source.
Spoilers: Season 3 (Enterprise)
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount. ChromiumBlue.com
is a Zalman King production. Characters just borrowed for a bit
of fun. No profit has been, or will be, made by this story.
A/N: A big thanks to Zoe. Merry Chistmas Qzee.
The snow crunched under his boots. Trip reflected that after
3 years in deep space a person could forget it did that. He veered
briefly through a patch with a particularly thick crust, just to feel it
give under his boots.
had to knock twice before the door opened. The difference between the
dusk outside and the electric lights from the open doorway made him squint.
"Any hope of a place to crash?"
an eyebrow at the man who had tracked him to the cabin in Colorado he'd inherited
from his family. He turned sideways to give his friend room to pass.
"Couch is free."
managed a weary smile as he trudged into the main room and dropped his bags.
three days before Jon gathered his courage. He waited until they were
sitting by the fire after a late supper. He didn't even look at his
friend, addressing his question to the flames instead. "Have you seen
shook his head. The fireplace was the only source of light in the small
room and it cast flickering shadows over his face.
at the other man out of the corner of his eye, noting the set to Trip's jaw.
"Think you will?" He waited for a response that didn't come before
adding, "You should."
jaw tightened even more. "I don't see what there is to talk about."
He spun in his chair to face his friend. "How can you say that?"
Trip only shrugged. Jon was silent for a minute as he decided how hard
he wanted to push. Eventually he said, "I think you're afraid."
got Trip's attention. "What!"
to hide his reaction to the look in his friend's eyes as he said, "You heard
me. I think you're too much of a coward to go talk to Malcolm."
Trip opened his mouth as if to say something, but thought better of it and
crossed his arms over his chest instead. Jon tossed a padd to his friend.
"He's in fleet housing in San Francisco, here's the address. I'm going
to bed." He wandered into the cabin's back room without glancing back.
When he got up in the morning Trip was already gone.
Trip three tries before he actually pressed the call button at Malcolm's
temporary housing. He waited uncomfortably during the five long seconds
it took Malcolm to answer the door. When it finally slid open Trip
felt a stab of guilt at the way Malcolm stiffened when he saw who had come
to visit. "Can..." Trip swallowed as his throat suddenly went
dry. "Can I come in?"
looked Trip over before stepping aside. "Of course." He watched
as Trip entered the room and stood awkwardly by sofa. After a moment
it became obvious that Trip wasn't quite able to start the conversation.
Malcolm leaned against the door frame and said, "Was there something you
looked up from where he'd been inspecting the coffee table and forced himself
to meet Malcolm's eyes. "I thought we should talk."
kept his tone neutral as he said, "About?"
Trip visibly squirmed as he fought for the words he wanted. "I was
thinking. We went through some rough stuff and kinda grew apart.
When I think back on how things were I remember being happy. I guess
what I mean is, we're going to be shipping out soon. And when we do
I was hoping we could..." He trailed off as Malcolm gave a mirthless
seriously think I'll pass the examinations?" There was no question
which examinations Malcolm was talking about. The scars would soon
fade and he'd be as physically fit as he'd ever been. "They have Hayes'
reports and logs. They know all about our fight, how I accused him
of trying to take over my duties. I look like some paranoid, neurotic
little nutcase." Malcolm shook his head and said, "I *am* a paranoid,
neurotic little nutcase."
under a lot of stress. Look what I did!" Trip waved an arm to
encompass people who weren't present." Look what the captain did.
Hell, look what *T'pol* did."
are some things you can't forgive people in charge of highly powerful munitions."
Malcolm sounded resigned to a fate of his own prophesying.
don't know that! You can't..."
you should leave, Trip." Malcolm took the other man by the arm and
firmly guided him to the door.
a gentle push he maneuvered Trip into the hallway. "Goodbye."
slid shut in his face. Trip stood there for a few moments before he
placed a hand on the cold metal. "Goodbye, Malcolm." He managed
to walk away without looking back.
rolled over in bed and pushed the blankets down a little, it had suddenly
become uncomfortably hot. He pulled his arms out and met only warm
air; the environmental controls must be malfunctioning. As he contemplated
getting up to see what was the matter a voice made him freeze.
was going to be a little getaway, just for the two of us." There was
a distinct whine in the speaker's tone.
now, this is important." Slightly deeper than the first, but also with
a British accent.
we can't keep him, he is awfully good looking." A trace of petulance
was still present, but less than before.
tried to keep himself absolutely still, but he must have given himself away.
The second voice said, "I think he's waking up."
sensed someone bending over his bed. Since he was on Earth he doubted
he was in any serious trouble. Crossing his fingers that he hadn't
somehow wound up in a sickbay, he opened his eyes.
blinked. He was looking at... himself. Or nearly. He'd
never worn his hair in that kind of spiky disarray before, and he didn't
have that little scar on his upper lip. Or that one on his nose
for that matter.
in front of him smiled broadly. "Ah! He speaks! Malcolm,
isn't it?" Malcolm could only nod in confusion. "May I introduce
Sir G." Malcolm nodded at the white haired figure standing slightly
off to the side. The man plastered a hand to his own chest. "And
I'm Owen: former bon vivant, so to speak."
frowned, too caught off guard to do anything but say, "Former?" Owen
seemed pretty cheerful as far as he was concerned.
cosmopolite, ex man of the world." Owen waved a hand through the air
and Malcolm's frown only deepened.
helpfully spoke up. "What Owen means to say is that he's a ghost."
slid himself back from the edge of the bed and scanned the room for an escape
route; he'd been kidnapped by madmen. He briefly considered that he
might be dreaming, but that sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach was
all too real. They didn't seem hostile, but the best thing to do would
be to keep them talking. "I don't suppose you know how I came to be
exactly." Owen glanced sideways at Sir G and the other man attempted
appeared yesterday and said he had a project for us. When we agreed
to help we were told to expect you this morning. He gave us a few details
about you: that your name is Malcolm and you work on a some sort of spaceship.
I have to confess that time travellers are something new for us."
twirled a cane that Malcolm hadn't noticed before. "We've seen just about
everything else, mind you."
honed in on the last thing Sir G had said. "Time traveller? You
mean it isn't 2154?"
smirked. "Try subtracting 160 years from that and see what you get."
ran a hand over his face at the thought of being back in the twentieth century.
At least he wasn't in the midst of a major war. "Can you tell me what
this man looked like?"
peculiar fellow. Dark hair, a touch on the arrogant side."
he call himself Daniels?"
shook his head. "He didn't call himself anything."
sniffed derisively. "Rather rude of him really."
you had some things to work through, and that we could be helpful.
Do you have any idea what he could have been talking about.
thought back to his recent encounter with Trip. "No idea." He
didn't like the knowing look Sir G gave him.
was broken when a horrible grating screech started coming from somewhere
outside the window. Malcolm winced at the sound. "What-"
Owen looked pained, if it was possible for a ghost to be in pain. "Nasty
nodded. "They seem to thrive in the Mediterranean climate."
Mediterranean?" Malcolm couldn't keep himself from parroting back the
it you were somewhere else?"
in San Francisco."
Francisco!" Owen clapped his hands together. "Delightful place.
We were there in '74... or was it '64?"
now, Owen." Sir G uttered the words with a smile, as if he'd said them
many times before.
somehow managed to become even more piercing and Owen massaged his temples.
"If you two will excuse me. I could never abide cicadas." With
that he slowly faded and vanished.
felt his jaw drop open as he stared at the recently vacated space.
After a few seconds he managed to turn wide eyes to Sir G.
smiled warmly and indicated the door behind him. "How about some breakfast?"
of espresso and a plate of toast procured by Sir G did wonders for getting
over the shock of seeing someone vanish. Sir G talked about everything
and nothing as Malcolm ate, only turning to more serious matters after Malcolm
finished his toast. "You bear more than a passing resemblance to Owen."
wondering about that." Malcolm carefully set his espresso cup down
on the table. "My last name is Reed. Do you suppose we could
rinsed the crumbs off Malcolm's plate as he said, "I'd say it's more than
possible, Owen is a Reed as well."
he have children, then?"
laughed outright at the idea. "Heavens, no. Owen did have a younger
brother, Edward. We never really kept track of him though, beyond checking
to see that he survived the wars. Last I heard of him he was starting
Keswick, no less." Malcolm jumped, but Sir G didn't seem at all surprised
by Owen's sudden appearance. "I never cared for Cumbria myself, it's
far too rainy." Owen perched on the edge of the table and regarded
Malcolm. "So I'm your great-great-great-great-great-something? Nice
to know the looks stayed in the family. Pity you don't seem to be much
taller, I've always thought around six feet would be nice."
into the defensive Malcolm said, "I've never found my height to be a handicap."
rolled his eyes at Malcolm's tone. "Of course you haven't."
A stern word from Sir G stopped the brewing quarrel in its tracks.
He looked from a sheepish Malcolm to an unrepentant Owen and frowned.
"Malcolm, would you mind finishing your breakfast on the patio while I have
a word with Owen?"
his eyes between his two companions, Malcolm nodded. "Of course not."
He picked up a plate of sliced fruit and walked out the back door Sir G indicated.
He was just settling into a deck chair when the door shut itself behind him
and cut off the hushed conversation that had started up. Malcolm gave
himself a mental kick for not thinking of accidentally propping it open.
Spaceships." Owen materialized in the deck chair next to Malcolm.
Owen." Malcolm surveyed the ghost who appeared to be wearing some sort
of antiquated swimwear. "Going to the beach?"
time." He twirled his ever-present cane before pointing it at the sky.
"What's it like up there?" Malcolm shrugged as he tried to come up
with an answer. As it became apparent that Malcolm wasn't sure how
to describe space travel Owen said, "Why'd you go?"
smirked humourlessly. "The ocean was too small." Sensing Owen's
confusion he elaborated. "I was destined for the navy, but knew I wouldn't
be happy there, and not just because of my aquaphobia. The ocean just
wasn't enough, so I turned to space. My father wasn't very happy though."
Malcolm affected a voice just a little deeper than his own and said, "Reeds
have been navy men for generations."
Owen squawked at the thought and drew himself up as he puffed out his chest.
He gave a little mock salute. "Private Owen Reed of the 4th Leicesters."
He waited until Malcolm returned the salute before slumping back into his
regarded his companion out of the corner of his eye. Owen was about
his age, and he'd been a soldier in a century known for its wars. He
wasn't sure how the ghost would react to his question, but was too curious
to stay silent. "Owen?"
cocked his head to one side and fixed Malcolm with a curious smile.
his lips and said, "How did you die?"
expelled a great huff of breath. "The war." He leaned back in
his seat and kicked his feet out in front of him. "The Great War, to
be precise. The war to end all wars." The bitter irony in his
tone wasn't lost on Malcolm. It was such a change from his usual demeanor
that Malcolm almost told Owen to forget he'd asked. Owen fiddled with
his cane for a moment before continuing, "I died in France. It was
the winter of 1917, in place called Bourlon Wood." Owen stared into
space as if he was having trouble remembering. "I was shot. It
hurt. I hurt so much. I fell down. I could see the trees
above me, just spindly little things. It started to snow. I was
so numb from the cold I thought I might be dead already." He gripped
his cane in a tight fist. "I remember being so *angry*. I was
furious with myself. I thought I was too young to die." Owen
gave a mirthless chuckle and continued, "I started berating myself: telling
myself to stop being a weakling and get up, go get help. I wasn't about
to just slip away so I mustered all the frustration and anger and used it
to stand up. The only thing is, my body didn't come with me."
was just..." Malcolm fumbled for the words he wanted. "Sheer
force of will?"
could say that. Owen chuckled. "Reeds have always been stubborn
smiled at a fond memory. "Sometimes I'd get working on something in
the armoury and Trip would have to track me down and haul me off to bed or
to the mess. He used to tease me about it. He said that I was
liable to die from not eating and sleeping, and then ensigns would be afraid
to venture into the armoury since I was bound to haunt it."
tapped Malcolm's shoulder with the handle of his cane. "You sound like
a Reed to me." He hopped to his feet and adjusted the hat that had
appeared on his head. "Now, if you'll excuse me." He winked roguishly.
"The topless sunbathers always come out at this time of day." With
that he vanished.
gazed at the view without really seeing anything. He was amazed by
how candid Owen had been with him. Descendant or not, Malcolm wasn't
sure he'd have been so open if he were in Owen's place.
told you." Malcolm spun around to see Sir G stepping out from the shadows
in the doorway. Sir G smiled warmly and took the chair Owen had vacated.
"He usually doesn't talk about it."
he'd crossed a line, Malcolm said, "Oh. I wouldn't have asked, but..."
you." Sir G gazed at the view for a moment before turning to Malcolm.
"It's probably good for him to mention it every decade or so."
fiddled with a loose strand of wicker on the arm of his chair. "I've
come quite close to dying on duty more than once. I'd always wondered
if there was any truth to ghost stories, seeing how close I'd come to being
now you know, but be sure to keep in mind that the ghostly realm isn't as
attractive as Owen might make it look." Seeing Malcolm's curious gaze
he elaborated. "It wasn't until he met me that Owen figured out how
to communicate with living people. He spent over 20 years wandering
around France. So close to everyone, but absolutely alone. I
suspect his current eccentricities are from going a bit mad during that time."
grimaced at the thought and then considered what Sir G had said. "Were
you a soldier too then?"
gave a wan smile. "I was barely 17 when I enlisted. It was the
Second World War, and I lied to the recruiting officer about my age.
I took a piece of shrapnel when my position was shelled. Right here:"
He placed a hand on his right hip and continued, "I couldn't walk.
I was half dead and waiting for someone to help me when Owen appeared.
He held me until help arrived. Without him I probably would have died.
At first I thought he was just a hallucination, but when I got better he
was still there. He stuck with me for the rest of the war and kept
me safe. He'd scout ahead to get information about enemy troops and
kept me from walking into traps. During the war we were just friends,
but he stuck with me after it was over. I didn't think he was my type
at all: he's so outgoing and flirtatious around women. But, well, over
time you can see what happened."
nodded. "I know what you mean." And he truly did.
were burning so I thought I'd better check up on you chappies." Owen,
clad in yet another outfit, materialized in front of them.
smiled affectionately. "I was just telling Malcolm how we met."
you?" Owen stalked over and draped an arm across Sir G's shoulders.
"As I remember it you were a skinny eighteen year old with ears that stuck
out. Took me years to corrupt you properly."
is a matter of opinion. As *I* remember it you were so relieved to
finally have someone to talk to you'd have followed around a cabbage if it
pursed his lips. "Ah yes, I think it was you being mostly dead that
did it. That or my magnetic personality." He narrowed his eyes
at Malcolm. "You're not dying, are you?"
was taken aback. "I... I was going to sleep."
you know 60 percent of Brits die in their sleep?"
eyes widened Sir G gently slapped Owen's shoulder. "What have I told
you about making up facts?" The ghost looked duly repentant and Sir
G smiled. "Good. Now I believe Malcolm was going to tell me about
his special someone."
concerned about his own state of health, Malcolm frowned. He couldn't
remember saying anything about Trip. "Wha-"
Owen clapped his hands and perched on the arm of Sir G's chair. "Do
Malcolm gnawed on the inside of his lip as he tried to decide what to say.
Confronted with Owen's earnest curiosity and Sir G's encouraging smile he
decided it wouldn't hurt to tell them everything. "Trip and I work
together on Enterprise. I'm the armoury officer, and he's the chief
engineer. When we first met I couldn't stand him. He's so casual
while on duty, he flirts with female crewmembers while off duty and he'd
chase after any alien that looks remotely female. After a while, though,
I guess he started to grow on me." He gave Owen a weak smile and carried
on. "We developed a friendship, of sorts, over time. It was months
before it turned into anything more. I'd been working on the torpedo
launchers all day and he dropped by to give me a hand. Hours bent over
in cramped spaces had my back in knots. When we finished he offered
to get the knots out. I took him up on the offer and wound up being
massaged within an inch of my life, fed dinner, and tucked into bed.
From that day on we were together."
picked at his fingernails as he continued softly, "As least, we were together
until the Xindi attacked. He sort of closed down, and I pushed when
he probably just needed space. Neither of us handled it very well.
He stopped coming 'round, and I stopped looking for him. When rumours
of him and T'Pol started going around I pretended I didn't care, despite
how awful I felt. That might have contributed too. At some level
he might have been trying to get a rise out of me."
made no strides towards reconciliation since this 'Xindi attack'?"
blush stained Malcolm's cheeks at Sir G's question. "Trip came by earlier
today, actually. I think he was trying to make up, but I didn't exactly
hear him out." Owen made a tsking sound and shook his head. Malcolm
hurried to defend himself. "You don't understand. Enterprise
is going to ship out again soon, and Trip's going to be on it."
won't be. Starfleet has no reason to trust me with the position of
cocked his head to one side and said, "You haven't been court-martialled,
looked insulted. "Of course not! But some of my behaviour in
the Expanse wasn't becoming an officer."
you been reprimanded?"
shook his head and said, "Not formally."
you decorated when you returned to Earth?"
tone was firm as he said, "Well then, I don't see why you can't show them
that you deserve to be on your ship. From what our mystery man told
us, your Starfleet seems to be a fairly reasonable organization."
opened and shut his mouth a few times, but nothing came out.
to drive his point home, Sir G said, "A friend of ours has a saying: love
is a gift you can't afford to squander."
Henry that!" Owen sniffed sulkily. "It was my saying first."
weighed their words and was forced to admit that they were probably right.
He ran a hand through his hair before admitting in an undertone, "I don't
know what to do."
and Sir G exchanged fond smiles before the former said, "Perhaps we can be
of service." At Malcolm's dubious look he puffed out his chest.
"We're highly experienced professionals in this field."
only knew. There was this trek into the desert to recover a woman from
the clutches of..."
Sir G who got the conversation back on track. "This man of yours, is
he the sentimental type?"
thought back to Trip crying at the movies of centuries old starlets and said,
and Sir G turned to each other and crowed in unison, "A rose!"
a flick of his wrist Owen presented Malcolm with a red rose that seemed to
appear out of thin air. "The sentimental type can never resist a gesture
such as this."
I wouldn't say there's anything particularly easy about it, but it will work."
appearance will help too." Owen stalked over to Malcolm and playfully
ran a hand through his hair. Setting his chin on Malcolm's shoulder
he batted his eyelashes at Sir G. "I'm thinking black. All black.
Who can resist a man in black with a red rose?"
met that question. "You never could, that's for certain. In this
case, though," Sir G eyed Malcolm, "I think it will do nicely."
what do I *do*?"
flung an arm around around Malcolm's shoulders and gave a little squeeze.
"I think you know."
Malcolm swallowed nervously. "I really have no idea."
be honest." Sir G gave Malcolm an encouraging smile. "And you
say everything that needs to be said."
if that fails just fall to your knees and..." Owen smirked as he said,
swallowed again. "Are you sure?"
right." Malcolm nodded slowly. "I'll do it." He looked
from Owen to Sir G. "I don't suppose you know how to get me home?"
glanced at Owen who said, "Just close your eyes." Malcolm took a deep
breath and closed them. "Now tap your heels together three times and
crossed his arms. "Oh, come on..." There was a flash as he vanished.
stared at the spot where Malcolm had been for a moment before sitting down.
"Do you think he'll do it?"
glided over to the chair and perched on the arm. He playfully ran a
hand through Sir G's hair and said, "Of course he will. He's a Reed."
twisted and wrapped an arm around his lover. Owen leaned down and set
his head on Sir G's shoulder. They watched the boats down in the harbour
for a while before Sir G said, "I'm not getting any younger, Owen."
momentarily stiffened at the comment before he relaxed into Sir G's side.
"You won't truly die, not with me waiting for you in this mortal realm.
And if you do, well..." He smiled wanly. "I'll be the first ghost
to die of a broken heart."
aware of a brief sensation of falling before he was rudely shocked by the
sensation of landing on a hard surface. His eyes flew open and he found himself
on the floor of his temporary housing in San Francisco. Morning light
was streaming in through the bedroom window and the clock was flashing 9:15
am. Malcolm disentangled himself from the blankets and climbed to his
feet. He wandered into the bathroom in a fog of confusion, trying to
determine if he'd been dreaming. As he stood in front of the mirror
he decided that it didn't matter, he knew what he had to do.
ran a hand through his hair before going straight to his closet. He
was sure there must be something black in there somewhere.
As he sidestepped
uniformed personnel Malcolm couldn't help but wish that Trip had obtained
a Starfleet apartment rather than returning to the ship. At least the
scan he'd covertly run from the armoury had shown a biosign in Trip's quarters,
he didn't like the idea of having to wander into engineering in this getup.
He rounded a corner and the familiar sight of Trip's door had his palms suddenly
going sweaty. He ran a hand through his hair and straightened his shirt
before stepping up and pressing the call button. "Come."
took a deep breath before keying the door open and stepping inside.
looked up from the padd he was reading, freezing when he saw who it was.
The door slid shut behind Malcolm and Trip's eyes widened as he took in the
other man's appearance: black shoes, black pants, and a black shirt.
What was even more surprising was that Malcolm appeared to be wearing a thin
silver chain around his neck. Trip couldn't recall him ever wearing
jewellery before. He slid his chair back and stood up, waiting for
his guest to make the first move.
Trip didn't seem to be about to throw him out Malcolm licked his lips and
softly said, "I owe you an apology." Trip shifted his weight in surprise,
but didn't say anything. "I had a lot of things on my mind yesterday,
and I took it out on you. I've thought about what you were saying and
I've realized that you were right. Enterprise is going to ship out
soon, and I intend to be on her. I was also hoping..." Malcolm
held his breath as he pulled a red rose out from behind his back and held
it out in front of himself.
didn't move for a full three beats of Malcolm's pounding heart. When
he finally did it was quick, impulsive, and exactly as Sir G and Owen had
predicted. Three strides and he'd gathered Malcolm up in his arms,
squeezing tightly as he mumbled apologies for how he'd treated Malcolm after
the attack and words of thanks and love.
hugged back Malcolm felt his eyes prickle and offered a few thankful words
of his own to what was probably a pair of ghosts by now. Neither man
noticed a flicker of light from outside the cabin's window.
into the small room, Q smiled.