Title: Harmonica Lessons
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.
Beta: None.
A/N:  For Gráinne.

Harmonica Lessons

    Malcolm was rigidly perched on his chair.  He couldn't believe he'd accepted the captain's invitation to watch water polo.  Jon had caught him after a double shift in the armoury and his exhausted brain had been unable to come up with a good excuse.  He figured it was only a matter of time anyhow.  He'd managed to politely skirt an inordinate number of other evenings like this one.

    He shifted slightly in his chair and forced himself to focus on the screen.  He couldn't afford to let himself be distracted by Trip.  Trip, who was wearing a gorgeous blue button down shirt.  Trip, who was sitting within one meter of... Malcolm snapped his thoughts back to the match.  The effect of that train of thought was potentially embarrassing.  He cautiously slid his eyes sideways, trying to see if the commander had noticed his lapse.  Trip's eyes were fixed on the screen, but Malcolm was shocked, not to mention horrified, to meet the gaze of his captain.  Jon's face twitched in a flitting smile and Malcolm felt his face flush pink as the captain proceeded to wink at him before turning back to the screen.  Malcolm felt his stomach plummet to his boots.  One thought occupied his mind:  he knows.

    Before Malcolm knew it the match was over, he wasn't even sure who had won.  He was about to make his escape by citing an early shift when Jon topped up all three glasses with beer and suggested that Trip "give us a song."  The man in question grinned obligingly and finished munching on the last bit of pizza that a steward had delivered ages ago.  Trip whipped his harmonica out of his breast pocket and Malcolm had the sinking feeling he wouldn't survive this.  Trip began with  a simple blues riff, then drew out an increasingly complex melody as Jon settled back in his chair and gazed out his window at the stars.  Trip played with his eyes closed so Malcolm observed him unabashed.  His music was a delightful background as Malcolm drank in the play of his facial muscles, the twitch of his jaw as he bent notes and the concentration that gently knit his brow.  Trip's expression was one of rapture as he trilled out the final notes of the song.  Malcolm bit his bottom lip in an effort not to moan.

    Trip opened his eyes slowly, panting slightly as he caught his breath.  He grinned at Malcolm.  "Did ya like it?"

    "It was,"  Malcolm fumbled for an appropriate word, "Brilliant."  Trip grinned at him so Malcolm continued, "I've never heard the harmonica played like that.  Does it take years of practise?"  Malcolm winced inwardly at his own awkwardness but Trip didn't seem to mind.

    "Some.  Wanna try?"  Malcolm could think of a million reasons to refuse, however, the quantity of alcohol that he'd consumed was sufficient to make them seem trivial.

    "Absolutely."  Trip ambled over and practically knelt between his knees.  Malcolm started slightly and quickly glanced up at the captain.  He immediately wished he hadn't as Jon grinned at him and raised his glass as if in a toast.  Malcolm gulped and was then struck dumb as the captain, knowing Malcolm could read lips, mouthed the words "he's mad about you" before taking a sip of his drink.  He glanced down, but Trip hadn't noticed the interaction at all.

    "So hold it with your left hand like this, and then sort of cup your right around, that's it!"  Malcolm held the harmonica tightly and darted another quick glance in his captain's direction.  He was horrified to see that the man was barely able to keep from laughing.  Suddenly he understood.  The captain getting the game, the food, and especially the drinks and then inviting both Trip and Malcolm over to watch it with him.  The whole thing reeked of a set up.  A set up that Trip didn't seem to be aware of.  Ah bless his little cotton socks, Jonathan Archer was truly a hopeless romantic.

    "Now sort of pucker your lips like this and put it far enough in your mouth that you get a good seal."  Malcolm heard a snort from the captain's direction and sighed as he raised the harmonica to his own lips.  He wondered how long it would take Trip to catch on.  It could be quite a while, Trip trusted the captain implicitly and probably took most invitations at face value.

    "Now if you exhale through the fourth hole you'll get a C..."

    Malcolm let Trip take him though a scale.  It was relaxing until he felt other parts of his anatomy taking a definite interest in the fact that Trip was essentially giving him a lesson on sucking and blowing.  While he didn't really want this to end there were some things one doesn't like to do with an audience.  He looked to the captain for help.

    Jon smirked at him before he took pity.  He cleared his throat to catch Trip's attention.  The scowl that marred Trip's handsome features as he turned to Jon seemed to confirm what the captain had mouthed earlier.  Jon made a show of yawning before he spoke, "I'm exhausted.  Perhaps," he looked pointedly at Malcolm, "you could take this somewhere else?"  Trip looked from Jon to Malcolm and his mouth fell open as enlightenment came crashing down upon him.  He closed his mouth and turned to Malcolm, looking at him intently, blue eyes full of hope.

    Malcolm shook his head in defeat and sighed, "Get your coat, love, you've pulled."

    "Pulled what?"

    Malcolm laughed and mumbled under his breath, "Bloody ignorant American git."  He leaned over and whispered in Trip's ear.  Trip's eyes widened.