Title: Piece by Piece

Author: Joules Mer

Author's e-mail: julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk

Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net

Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 05/10/2004

Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity.  Everyone else please ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: T/R

Summary:  A response to Typingmonkey's album challenge.

Series: None

Beta: None.  Just written and posted... I should really keep things for at least a full day so I can get the errors out, but I've always been the impatient sort.

Spoilers: Season three (especially E^2, The Expanse, The Xindi)

Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  Characters just borrowed for fun.  Song lyrics are by Bob Dylan and John Lennon  and are copyright their respective music companies/estates.  No profit was, or will be, made by this story.

A/N:  A response to Typingmonkey's album challenge.  I used John Lennon's Walls and Bridges and Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited.  POV alternates between Malcolm and Trip.  Malcolm's scenes come from songs on Walls and Bridges and Trip's come from songs on Highway 61 Revisited.  I essentially based each scene on a quote, the rest of the song may not pertain at all.  The layout is essentially song title, quote, and scene.

#9 Dream
"So long ago
Was it in a dream?  Was it just a dream?
I know, yes I know
It seemed so very real, it seemed so real to me."

    As I walk up the stairs to our flat with a bag of groceries in each hand I can hardly keep a spring from my step.  I only graduated from university a month ago, but it feels like everything is falling into place for me.  I was hired before graduation to work for a weapons research program.  If this summer job goes well, my acceptance into Starfleet is guaranteed.  The work itself is interesting and rewarding and I even get along well with my supervisor, which is a change.  In fact, we get along so well that we’re now living together and are both going to apply to Starfleet in the fall.  We’ve even started thinking about whereabouts in San Francisco we want to rent an apartment, although in my mind anywhere close to Starfleet Headquarters would be fine.

    I reach the fifth floor and turn down the hallway, fumbling to get my key out without dropping the groceries.  I finally get the door open and am a full four steps into the room before I stop cold.  Things are missing.  Shelves are missing their clutter, photos are gone, and two pairs of shoes are missing from their normal place next to the door.  Then I see the bag.

    He comes into the front room carrying a rucksack and a suitcase which he sets down by the door.

    "What's going on?"  I can barely talk around the lump in my throat.
    "I've been fired, Malcolm."

    My jaw drops, "What?"

    "They thought that my appointment of you as project leader was favouritism."  He can't meet my eyes, "I've managed to find a job in Scotland, I'm leaving tomorrow."
    "But Jack..."

    "I can't do anything about it, Malcolm, even though it isn’t fair.  The job in Scotland is a major step down, but I’ve got to take it.”  I’ve never heard him sound so lifeless before.

    I fight to keep my voice steady, "But what about Starfleet?"

    "They won't want me now."  He turns away and picks up the last of his bags, "I won't be back, Malcolm.  I’m sorry it had to end like this."  He seems to be fighting with himself, but he still manages to keep from meeting my eyes.  "Goodbye."  The door slams on what is now my half empty flat.


It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
"Well I wanna be your lover, baby,
I don't wanna be your boss."

    "Hey Malcolm!"  He finally stops and turns around so I jog a few steps to catch up with him, "What are you doing tonight?"

    "I was going to go to the gym."  I think I've got him on the defensive as he's got that suspicious look about him again.

    "Would you like to come to the movie with me instead?  It's a classic."

    "I don't know..."  Oh boy, he's really suspicious now.  All shiftiness and sideways glances.

    "Please, Malcolm.  You'll really like it, I promise.  Something blows up."  He gives me one of his funny half smile half smirks at that which is an improvement.  Then he closes off again.

    "I don't think I should, Commander."  

    Commander?  Damn, it's a full retreat.  "Aw, c'mon Malcolm.  I don't want to go alone."  But what I'm really saying is 'I want to be with you', and being Malcolm he can tell.

    "I don't think it would be appropriate."  Appropriate?  Where is he getting this from?  When it becomes clear I'm going to argue he speaks up.  "I also don't think this is a conversation we should be having in the corridor."  He notices where we are and takes a few paces down the hallway to open the lounge door, "Perhaps in here?"  He's visibly relieved when I nod and hastens to hustle me inside.

    As soon as the door shuts and I'm certain no one besides Malcolm is in the room I continue, "I don't get what you're saying, Malcolm."

    He gives me a look that makes me feel more naked than when I'm in my birthday suit, "I take it this invitation to the movie is essentially your way of asking me on a date?"

    I squirm under his gaze and can't do anything but tell the complete truth.  He's already guessed anyway. "Well, yeah."

    "I don't think it would be proper for us to become romantically involved."

    "What?"  I must look like a landed fish, "Why?"

    "You're my superior officer."

    "So?"  He's not making sense, "Starfleet doesn't care, so long as the cap'n feels it's not interfering with our duties.  It's not like there are regs against it."

    He shifts slightly on his feet, "I don't think it's a good idea.  I'm sorry, Trip."  There's something about his use of my nickname and the way he's standing that makes me think he doesn't really want to say no.  Pushing Malcolm is like playing Russian roulette with a phase pistol: you'll always get hurt, but I decide to try anyway.

    "Malcolm, you've got to understand that I really like you and want to be with you."

    "I know."  He looks almost guilty.

    "Then why are you refusing?  You seem to like me, unless I've been reading you wrong."

    He looks so uncomfortable I almost feel bad.  "I do like you, I just don't think I should be involved with a fellow officer."  Malcolm has never been able to lie to me, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.

    "Please think about it, Malcolm.  You could at least let me prove you wrong."

    He gives me this inscrutable glance before he finally gives in, "I'll think about it."


What You Got
"You don't know what you got, until you lose it
Oh baby, baby, baby gimme one more chance."

    While I'd never admit it to him, Trip has been really sweet these past few weeks.  Sweet.  That's not a word I ever thought I'd associate with one of my superiors in Starfleet, but it seems appropriate right now.  He joins me for any meal he's not supposed to be having with the captain, eagerly chatting about everything from interesting places on Earth to phase cannons.  Two weeks ago we started going to the gym together as well.  One evening he showed up at my quarters all dressed to go and I couldn't refuse the offer of company.  Now he picks me up almost every day after shift so we can go burn off a bit of steam.  Last week he invited himself over after we were done as well.  We'd already cleaned up and changed so we just lounged around talking and having a drink.  That become a usual occurrence as well.  He's become easy to talk to, and I can just feel myself opening up to him.  In truth, that scares me a bit.

    The chronometer flashes the time that usually accompanied him arriving in his workout gear, but he doesn't show up.  Fifteen minutes later I resign myself to the fact that he isn't going to show up.  Again.  He hasn't come by since we heard about the attack on Earth two days ago.  To my surprise I'm missing him terribly already.  I guess I should go talk to him.

Desolation Row
"When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?"

    Why the hell won't he just drop it?  I can't deal with this right now.  I almost want to grab Malcolm and shake him, to ask what the hell he thinks he's doing.  There were seven million people killed on Earth, Lizzie was just one of them.  She was no more important than that lady with all the cats who used to live next door to her.  Every single one of them was important.  My spanner slips out of my hand and clatters on the deck plating.  Damn.  I can't sleep, I can't eat because even pecan pie tastes like cardboard.  I think I'm losing it.

    My shift has been over for four hours anyway so I pack up my tools and head towards sickbay, maybe I can talk Phlox into giving me something to help me sleep.  I've almost made it to sickbay when I spot a familiar figure coming towards me.  Malcolm stops and eyes me, no doubt taking in my dishevelled appearance.  He's pretty much blocking my path, but I try to slip by anyway, "'Scuse me, Lieutenant, I'm on my way to see Phlox."

    He swallows whatever he was going to say and looks even more concerned,  "Are you okay?  Did you get hurt?"

    I wave a hand tiredly, "Naw, just having some trouble sleeping."

    A little crease of worry appears on his forehead, "Oh.  Is there anything I can do?  If you need to talk..."

    "No, Malcolm.  I'll be fine."  I push my way past and leave him standing there as I hurry away.  I think maybe I should just tell him in no uncertain terms to leave me the hell alone.  I can't cope with him right now.


Whatever Gets You Thru the Night
"Whatever gets you through the night 'salright, 'salright."

    He's at The Bitch's again.  I shouldn't think of a superior like that, but I can't lance the boil of hurt and jealousy that's festering like a physical wound.  Lately it seems like he's been going to her quarters every single night, and staying there for quite some time.  I tried to ask him about it, but he got all touchy.  I couldn't bear to be the brunt of any more sniping comments so I just dropped it.  I almost wish I hadn't, in a kind of morbid way I want to know what she's doing to him.  I don't know if I can handle the answer, though.  From what I've heard this neuropressure is pretty intimate stuff.  I suppose I should be grateful that T'Pol has managed to help him, it was terrible to see him in that sorry state.  I just can't help but wish it had been me.


Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
"Everybody said they'd stand behind me
When the game got rough
But the joke was on me
There was nobody even there to bluff."

    Everyone has pulled away from me.  My engineering team practically tiptoes around like they're afraid of me.  When I think of some of the outbursts I've had lately, their behaviour is probably more than justified.  Travis and Hoshi treat me differently too, they're oh so careful about what they say at our staff meetings.  I guess I have let my temper get the better of me a few times lately.  The Cap'n is different too.  He's become so focused on "our mission".  He doesn't have time for a whiny chief engineer who can't deal with what happened to his sister.  He's been even more distant after the incident with my clone.  It's as if when he looks at me all he sees is a reminder of how he's thrown away his morals.  He doesn't see a friend at all.

    In a way Malcolm is the worst.  I think he finally got the message because he goes out of his way to avoid me, both on and off duty.  I'd almost bring it up with the captain, but that would probably just make things worse.  When I do see him he's wholly professional.  I think he's decided to pretend some of our earlier conversations never happened.  He's so good at the charade there are times I almost believe it.  Then I remember what we almost had.  Maybe if I ignore the whole messy situation it will just go away.


"I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm tired
Of being so alone."

    And thus ends the Reed line: with me.  Generations of Reeds would be spinning in their graves.  I never thought I'd be such a failure.  From what I can tell I got up one morning and went to work on my phase cannons.  There was an overload in the power grid and *bang*... No more Malcolm Reed.  What a useless way to go.  From looking through their Enterprise you'd never know I had even existed.

    What's worse is that I was all alone.  I can't believe Trip married T'Pol.  At first I assumed that they wed after I died, but then I realized that the chronology doesn't work.  She married him while I was still alive.  What happened?  What went wrong?  Maybe I should start looking for someone else I could love.  Too bad I already know they don't exist.  Not on Enterprise, anyway.


Queen Jane Approximately
"And you want somebody you don't have to speak to."

    A Vulcan and I.  If you told me that a few years ago I probably would have decked you.  Now I just don't know what to think.  She told me I was just some experiment in sexuality, what a thing to do to a guy.  Then I found out that in one possible future I married her, we even had a son.  I've spent the last few days trying to figure out why.

    I used to think that Malcolm was the only one on Enterprise for me.  Heck, look at the guy.  Who could resist that?  Not me, that's for sure.  After the attack I was so mixed up.  I didn't want to be in love with someone who could die, I didn't want to talk about the feelings that were too painful to deal with, I didn't think I deserved to feel happy when Lizzie was dead.  I was carrying all of that with me while trying to be so focused on a mission that we couldn't afford to bungle.  In truth the mission was personal as well.  I wanted vengeance.

    I was afraid to think what Lizzie, who had been horrified that there used to capital punishment in the world, would have thought.  She was a bundle of teenage ideology in high school, no concept of how cruel the world could actually be.  I remember her once saying that even if she was murdered she wouldn't want the person who did it to die.  She thought that if murder was the worst crime a person could commit, it couldn't be right to sentence a person to death.  I used to think she might be right.

    Lizzie would never have wanted her big brother to be a killer.  She would have wanted me to move on, too.  I was trying not to think about that, trying to hold on to my rage, when Malcolm came along.  Worried, caring, *loving* Malcolm who just wanted me to talk.  It was more than I could handle.  With T'Pol there isn't any talking.  There isn't any love either.


Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)
"Nobody loves you when you're down and out."

    My heart is hurting.  It's like a soul deep physical pain and it's capable of leaving me gasping and sobbing in my bunk as I try to catch my breath.  I've never felt this awful before, not even when Jack left.  Every morning I take a shower, comb my hair, put on a clean uniform and go to work.  I spend the day working hard, not slipping up once.  The effort of projecting the image of a competent officer leaves me drained.  No one thinks anything is amiss.

    I can make small talk with Travis and Hoshi at lunch, interact with my subordinates and obey my commanding officers as if nothing is wrong.  I've been doing my best to avoid Trip, though.  He's the only one who could make me break down.

    Every night I retreat to the sanctuary of my quarters, that's when the walls come down.  Last night I just fell onto my bunk and sobbed.  Not actually crying, there weren't any tears, but shaking as if I were.  I haven't cried in years.  I woke up this morning to the insistent chirp of my alarm.  I was still uniform, I hadn't even managed to remove my boots.  I couldn't bring myself to care.


Like a Rolling Stone
"Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose."

    I can just see a shock of dark hair at the table farthest from the door.  Malcolm's sitting all hunched over with his back to the rest of the room, from his posture I'd guess he's working on a padd.  I amble over to the drink dispenser and get a coffee, one eye on him the entire time.  He hasn't been in here much lately, always working in the armoury after the end of his shift or hiding out in his quarters.  I've spotted him in the gym, of course, but he usually leaves when I show up.  When I have seen him in the mess he's always been at that table, and he's always been alone.  Malcolm has been really distant lately, even Jon has noticed.  When I look at him now it's almost as if he's radiating pain.  I guess I was so wrapped up in my own grief I didn't realize someone else could be hurting.  Seeing him like this makes me feel bad in a way I never thought I'd experience again.  I thought I'd buried my feelings for him forever.  I guess I was wrong.

    My feet carry me over to him almost on their own accord.  I finally stop beside him, but he doesn't acknowledge my presence at all.  For some reason that really bothers me.  I reach out and carefully lay a hand on his shoulder, expecting him to startle or tell me to fuck off.  Instead he just gives this drawn out shudder and I'm reminded of how my nephew would act when he was trying not to cry.  I slide into the seat next to him and he looks at me with dulled eyes, "Trip."

    Everything I want to say just catches in my throat at that lifeless tone and I wrap an arm around him and hug tightly.  The amazing thing is, even though we're in full view of everyone in the mess hall, he lets me.

Bless You
"And remember though love is strange
Now and forever our love will remain."

    Those funny streaks of light glitter in the window and are a stark contrast to the dim room.  I shift slightly, burrowing into the warmth next to me.  He shifts and carefully toys with the short hair at the back of my neck, I lean into the caress almost unconsciously.  We're in the aft observation lounge, curled up together on one of the sofas.  My clearance codes preventing anyone from stumbling into the room uninvited.

    He leaves my hair and wraps both of his arms around me, pulling me into a hug and practically laying me across his lap.  After a while he shifts again and I think that maybe his legs have gone numb, I'm not light and I've been draped over them for a while.  Instead of lifting me up he leans down so that his lips are almost touching my ear.  The warm puff of breath almost makes me miss what he says.  Almost, but not quite.

    "I love you, Malcolm."

    I think my eyes water at that and I have to swallow a lump in my throat to be able to speak, "I love you too."  He gives me a little squeeze and the joy feels like fireworks going off inside me.