Title: A Simple Twist of Fate

Author: Joules Mer

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

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

Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 1/06/2004

Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity and BLTS.  All others ask me.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG

Pairing: Tucker/Reed, Reed/Cole

Summary:   Time goes by.  Some people change, and some stay the same.

Beta: None

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  No profit was made, no copyright infringement is intended.  The title is nicked from a Bob Dylan song, "Simple Twist of Fate", copyright 1974 Ram's Horn Music.  I was listening to it when I got the idea for this.

A/N:  Pretend season three never happened.

A Simple Twist of Fate

    Resplendent in his dress uniform, Malcolm stood proudly before Jonathan Archer.  Hoshi snapped a quick picture and sauntered over to stand next to Travis.  "He looks so handsome."

    Travis smiled at his friend, "They'll make such a gorgeous couple."

    "Is Trip on his way?  The ceremony is pretty much dependant upon him being here."

    "I checked a while ago and he was just about done fighting with his dress uniform.  Don't worry, he'll be on time.  Malcolm wouldn't let him be late."

    "The captain looks so happy.  He's such a softie, I'll bet he's always wanted to make use of his rank as captain and marry someone."

    A door slid open and Trip exited a nearby building, smiling at the assembled people as he took his place in front of the large crowd of guests.  Hoshi snapped a quick picture of the three men as the music began.  Malcolm flashed a quick smile at his best man before turning to greet his bride.


    "Evenin' Cap'n.  T'Pol joining us tonight?"

    "She's re-aligning the sensors, so it's just you and me tonight.  Which is just as well, I suppose, as chef made steak.  I don't think she'll ever get used to watching us eat it."

    Trip couldn't stop one corner of his mouth twisting into a grin, "And I'll never figure out how she eats breadsticks with a knife and fork.  It's been seven years, and I can't do anything but shatter them when I try."

    Jon laughed for a moment as well before he turned sombre, "I heard from Starfleet today."

    Trip's expression turned grim, "Oh?"

    "They've put a replacement on a Vulcan ship.  The Vulcans are travelling at warp eight so we'll rendez-vous and pick our new officer up in two weeks."

    Trip nodded slowly, "It'll take to crew a while to get used to a new officer, particularly since the funeral was just last week.  Do we know who it is?"

    "Forrest attached their file, but it got scrambled from the interference.  I have him try and send it again, but I don't really feel like talking with command right now.  They keep telling me over and over how I have their deepest sympathies.  It makes me feel ill."

    "Shearer was a good officer, and she had her hands full replacing Malcolm.  She did a good job.  I can't believe it's been four years since Malcolm got hitched, it feels like he's been gone for a lot longer."

    "That it does, Trip."  Jon took a sip of his iced-tea and stared into his glass, "It's a shame we lost touch like we did.  I don't know what happened."

    Trip nodded solemnly, "I think Travis has had the odd letter from him, but I haven't heard anything in years."  He guiltily looked down at his own glass.  He knew why Malcolm hadn't stayed in touch, but he wasn't about to share the reason.


    Trip flopped over onto his side, but he just couldn't get comfortable enough in his bunk to fall asleep.  Truth be told, the prospect of welcoming a new armoury and tactical officer on board was stirring up old ghosts he'd hoped were laid to rest.  Trip rolled onto his back and surrendered to the memories that were clamouring to be heard.

    Being Malcolm's best man was one of the hardest things he'd ever done.  Malcolm had looked so dashing in his dress uniform, and it was all he could do to hold his tongue when Jon had asked if anyone had a reason why the couple should not be wed.  The couple.  On that sunny day in Greenwich, on the rolling lawn between the Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Observatory, Ensign Samanatha Cole had become Mrs. Malcolm Reed.  And Trip had been forced to stand slightly off to one side and smile politely.

    Hours later, when the reception was beginning to wind down, Malcolm had caught up with him in the Painted Hall.  Trip had been sitting at one of the long tables that still held the remnants of some people's dinners, idly twirling a deserted dessert fork as he stared at the ceiling.  At the time he'd been marvelling that someone he knew could have had part of their wedding reception in this room.  Evidently being the only son of Admiral Stuart Reed resulted in some serious perks.


    He looked up and smiled tiredly as his friend approached, "Hey Malcolm, congratulations."

    "That must be at least the five hundredth time I've heard that."  He smiled for a moment before he sat down in the empty chair next to Trip and looked at his friend carefully, "Why are you hiding out in here when the party is outside?"

    Trip forced a smile on his face and made his words light, "My feet were burnin' from all the dancing and Travis keeps threatening to challenge me to an Andorian Ale drinking contest which I couldn't back down from with my honour intact.  I know I'd lose horribly though because I've seen him in action before and it makes me suspect that boomers are raised on the stuff."  Malcolm laughed at Trip's words and placed a friendly hand on his shoulder.  He was clearly about to say something when he caught Trip's eye and truly looked at his friend.  Their gazes locked and Trip was powerless to hide what was in his heart.

    Malcolm's eyes widened and his mouth fell open slightly.  He looked at his best man in shock for a moment before he managed to whisper, "Oh Trip.  I never knew."  And in that moment Trip knew that Malcolm cared for him in return, maybe even loved him.

    The moment was shattered by a high pitched voice from the doorway, "Malcolm!  Come on, they're playing your song.  You're supposed to be dancing right now!"  It was Rachael, one of the many bridesmaids.

    Malcolm stood up as if he'd been burned by his chair.  He shifted uncertainly before he spoke, "I've got to go and dance with Sammy now."  He paused for a moment and gave his friend one last look before he spoke, "Good-bye, Trip."  With that he turned on his heel and marched purposefully from the room.  Trip hadn't seen or heard from him since.  In a way he supposed that it was better that way.


    The senior staff stood stiffly in front of the docking hatch.  Enterprise had docked with the Vulcan cruiser a few minutes ago and they'd been informed that their officer, identity still unknown, would meet them as soon as possible.  The hatch slid open and they were confronted by a figure in a Starfleet uniform with red piping, their new armoury officer.  A very familiar figure indeed.  With a suitcase in each hand and a duffle bag slung across his back Malcolm awkwardly stepped over the threshold of his old home.  "Hello."

    The captain was the first human to recover from the shock, "Welcome aboard Lieutenant..."  Jon stumbled as he took in the pips on his former officer's uniform, "Lieutenant-Commander Reed."  His prepared speech failed him and he reached out and took one of Malcolm's suitcases in his left hand so he could shake Malcolm's hand with his right.  "It's good to see you again, Malcolm."  Travis and Hoshi closed in behind him, the latter sweeping Malcolm up into a hug as soon as Jon released his hand.  Trip sidled sideways to get a look at the man he hadn't seen in over four years.  There were a few new lines on his face and he was sporting a neatly trimmed moustache, but other than that he was the same old Malcolm.  Trip edged into the background as T'Pol stepped forward to greet their old crewmate.

    When the enthusiastic greetings were winding down Jon took charge again, "Well, Malcolm, I had everyone here to meet you as we weren't told who our replacement was, but it's just as well as they would have all wanted to say hello.  You're getting your old quarters back so perhaps we can help you take your luggage there and then let you get settled in."

    "That would be lovely, sir."  Travis took Malcolm's other suitcase and as the rest of the senior staff began to usher him down the corridor it was all Trip could do to fall into step behind them.  As they strode down the corridor they would pass crewmembers who would smile politely at their superiors before performing double takes strong enough to result in whiplash.  Trip would have found it amusing if he wasn't still stunned.  It was Jon that asked the question that was beginning to press at them all.

    "So what have you been doing, Malcolm?  It's certainly been a while..."  Jon trailed off, unsure if he should mention the woman who was conspicuous in her absence.

    "I've been in charge of a weapons development group operating out of a Starfleet lab in Oxford.  It wasn't very exciting work, though, and I was ready to get away from Earth for a while."  It was then that Trip realized Malcolm wasn't wearing his wedding ring.  Time stopped and he remained frozen in place in the corridor as everyone else continued along.


    The mess hall was abuzz with conversation when Trip entered the room.  Four years, two months, and three days.  It had been four years, two months, and three days since Trip had last seen Malcolm.  Enterprise had returned to Earth for a refit and resupply almost three years after leaving.  Malcolm and Samantha had taken advantage of the stop to have a planet side wedding, complete with well over two hundred guests.  Enterprise had broken orbit while they were still on their honeymoon.  The last Trip had heard the Reeds planned to buy a house and settle down somewhere in England.  Lieutenant Rebecca Shearer had been assigned to take over Malcolm's post and Enterprise had continued on its mission.  It now seemed that something had gone very wrong for both of them.  Trip grabbed some lunch and meandered over to Travis and Hoshi's table, he could count on them for the full story.

    "Hi, sir.  Care to join us?"

    "Hi Travis, Hoshi.  I'd love to."  Trip set his tray on the table and sat down in an empty chair.

    Hoshi looked curiously at her friend, "Where did you disappear to this morning?  I think Malcolm was looking for you when we got to his quarters."

    Trip flushed slightly, "Just something I had to take care of in engineering."  In truth, he'd locked himself in his office and tried to keep his emotions under wraps.  He didn't know what he'd do when he was first caught alone with Malcolm.  He didn't have a clue what to say.  "So what's happened?  How is he?"

    Travis shifted uneasily in his seat, "They're divorced.  Evidently staying on Earth was her idea.  Malcolm thought it was because she wanted to start a family.  She actually had a man on the side, if you know what I mean.  How Samantha thought she could hide that from him I don't know."

    "Oh gawd."

    Travis nodded solemnly, "I stopped getting letters from him over a year ago and my that's when my letters started getting bounced from their address.  I'm guessing that was when he found out about the affair and they divorced."

    "They seemed so in love."  Hoshi piped up sadly from her seat at the round table.  "They had the most perfect wedding.  I never saw this coming."

    Travis raised an eyebrow, "I'm guessing neither did Malcolm."

    Trip looked down at his folded hands and spoke softly, "He really, truly, loved her.  I guess she told him the same in return and when you really want to be with someone...."

    "You can become blind to the facts."  The three of them sat in silence for a moment, mourning the sad events that had transpired for their friend.  It was Hoshi that finally tried to brighten the mood.

    "I think it will be good to have him back.  It's strange see him again, he doesn't seem quite like the same old Malcolm yet, though."

    "And it's not just the moustache."  They all grinned at that before the mood turned again.

    "I couldn't think of a better person to replace Rebecca.  It would have been too hard to have someone completely new."  Travis and Trip nodded their agreement.  Rebecca had served on Enterprise for a year longer than Malcolm and had become a good friend to them all.  Her recent death in a shuttlepod accident had hit the whole crew hard.

    "Knowing what Malcolm has been through, I don't think anyone resents him being here instead of Rebecca.  He's had as tough a time as we have.  We all just wish it didn't have to happen like it did."

    "Where is he anyway?"

    Travis gave a faint smile, "The captain gave him the rest of the day off.  He's still on Vulcan time so I'd imagine he's in his quarters.  He must be exhausted."  Trip nodded and filed that piece of information away for later.


    The warp engine was thrumming softly as Trip replaced the panel that he'd been forced to remove earlier.  Malcolm had been back on board for two days and Trip had barely spoken with him.  Sure he'd put in the required appearance at last night's dinner in the captain's mess, but the conversation there had been completely work related.  Besides that Malcolm had spent a lot of time in his cabin as going from a Vulcan vessel to an Earth one resulted in something reminiscent of the severe jet-lag from history books.  Trip put away his tools and was about to pack it in for the day when he heard the excited voice of Crewman Rostov coming from the other side of the engine.  "Lieutenant Reed!  Oh, sorry, Lieutenant-Commander Reed!  It's so good to see you, sir.  Welcome back.  The commander?  Oh, he's just back there fixing a burnt relay."

    Trip considered fleeing, but before he could move a familiar voice filled the small space, "Hello Trip."

    He spun slowly around to face the other man standing right behind him, "Hello Malcolm."  His eyes widened and he reached out and gently caught Malcolm's chin as he scrutinized the other man's face, "You shaved it off."

    Malcolm scrunched his now hairless upper lip and nodded slightly, "It was getting me funny looks from the crew."

    "Oh."  Trip dropped his hand and shuffled his feet slightly on the deck plating.  "So how have you been?  I mean, how does it feel to be back on Enterprise, I mean."  Trip winced as he stuttered and tried to avoid talking about he proverbial pink elephant in the room.  Malcolm would have none of it.

    "Life has been tough lately, as I imagine it has been for you.  I'm very sorry to hear about what happened to Lieutenant Shearer."

    "Oh, well, thanks."

    Malcolm scrutinized his old friend closely, "I'd like to talk to you, Trip."

    Trip was instantly guarded, "About what?"


    Trip squirmed under Malcolm's gaze, "I dunno, Malcolm, I mean, maybe this isn't the best time.  You haven't been, ya know, separated from her for so long and..."

    Malcolm cut him off, "Trip, I was used.  Used and spat out by someone I loved and I thought loved me in return.  There's no sense denying that.  It's been really hard, but I've put myself back together.  I almost didn't take this post when Starfleet offered it to me, but I knew I had to.  If I didn't I'd wonder for the rest of my life."

    Trip was hooked, "Wonder what?"

    "My life has been torn apart, Trip.  My house, my "friends" on Earth, my life.  All warped and twisted, nothing the same as it once was, nothing as I thought it was.  I had to know if you were still the same as I remembered."

    Trip gulped, "And am I?"

    Malcolm smiled fondly, "I can tell that you still love me."  Trip started to back away and Malcolm held up a forestalling hand, "Please, just listen to what I have to say."

    "But Malcolm..."

    A sudden, horrible, thought crossed Malcolm's mind, "Are you seeing someone right now?"

    Trip gaped at him for a moment before hurrying to reply, "No!  No, I'm not.  It's just... this ain't easy, Malcolm."

    "Why can't it be?  Shouldn't it be whatever we make it?"

    "It's not like we can just start over."

    "Why can't we?"

    "Because... because there's so much in our past.  It's overwhelming."

    "It's the past, Trip, let it go."

    Trip eyed him guardedly, "How can I do that?"

    Malcolm thought for a moment and then stuck out his hand, "Hi, I'm Malcolm Reed.  I've just been assigned as the armoury and tactical officer."

    Trip stared at the outstretched arm for a moment before he slowly reached out and took Malcolm's hand, shaking carefully before releasing it, "Hi Malcolm, I'm Trip."

    "I'm off duty now, would you care to join me for a drink?"

    A slow smile spread across Trip's features, "I'd like that very much, Malcolm."

    "Good."  Malcolm extended his hand, "Shall we?"

    Trip reached out and gently took Malcolm's hand in his own, "Lead the way."