Title: Chocolate Covered Valentines
Author: Joules Mer
Rating: PG
Pairing: T/R
Feedback: julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk   
Website: jmenterprise.popullus.net
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  No profit was made, no copyright infringement is intended.
Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity and BLTS.  All others ask me.
A/N: Happy Birthday Louise!

    "Valentine's Day." Malcolm huffed as he made his way down the corridor, side stepping a pair of ensigns holding hands. In truth, he used to enjoy Valentine's Day, but not this year.  This year, he'd blown it completely.  It had happened yesterday with what started out as a harmless game of poker with his three closest friends on the ship.


    "...and I raise you two."  Trip tossed the chips to the centre of the table and Malcolm withheld a snort as best he could.  Trip's "bluffing" seemed to work on Travis and Hoshi, but to Malcolm the man could be an open book.  

    Travis tossed in his own chips and the idle conversation that usually accompanied their poker games had started up again.  "Hey, look over there."  Three heads slowly turned and gazed into the far corner of the mess hall where two of the stellar cartographers were sharing a cozy dinner.

    "Is it just me or has there been a lot of that lately?"

    "I think so Hoshi," Trip stretched in his chair, "It seems like every couple on the ship has gone public in time for Valentine's."

    "Something you want to tell us, Trip?"  Travis' eyes glittered wickedly.

    Trip slumped in his seat, "Oh Gawd I wish, Trav."  

    "Oh poor Trip, not getting any action, huh?  Not with your magnetic personality?"

    "It repels every human in sight!  Creepy aliens though..."  Trip flushed and sank deeper into his chair.  Hoshi could be a wicked tease when she wanted to.

    "Yeah, well, I don't see you with a date at movie night."  She just snorted at him.  Trip was so clearly on the defensive his words didn't carry any weight.

    "What about you, Malcolm?  Been getting any lately?"  

    Malcolm made a face of mock despair, "Sadly no, my friend."  

    Hoshi giggled and asked that fateful question, "But who would you go out with if you could?  Anyone in particular?"

    Malcolm called on his reserves of stoicism, "Can't think of anyone."

    "Blush!  Blush!  Look at him go!"

    Malcolm cursed his fair complexion and gregarious southerners in general.  "I'm telling you..."

    "He's getting redder!"  Trip positively crowed with delight as Malcolm glowered at his friends.

    "So who is it, Malcolm?"  Malcolm gaped at Travis.  Don't ask me that, Travis.  Oh please don't ask me that.  There was one person on the ship that he was attracted to.  Said person was also straight and seated at this very table.

    "Yeah, Malcolm, don't make us guess."  Hoshi was getting caught up in the question as well.  When Malcolm didn't speak she continued, "Is it Cutler?"

    Malcolm breathed a sigh of relief and shook his head.  Of course, they were just going to list a bunch of women.  He could just deny liking each one until they gave up.  "Hess?"  Malcolm allowed himself to smile and shook his head at Travis' query.  This was actually rather fun.








    "No."  The names were coming fast and furious from all directions so Malcolm kept up as best he could.


    "She's married!"

    "Oh I know, T'Pol?"

    "No!"  Malcolm gave a scandalized glare at Trip.

    "But I thought you liked her..."

    "NO!"  He injected enough force to shut Trip up completely.

    "Oh come on Malcolm, tell us."  Hoshi injected more than a touch of whine into her voice.

    Malcolm grinned smugly, "No."

    "Aw come on, Mal."  The engineer's voce was distinctly whiney as well, "At least give us a clue."

    "Fine.  You're completely off target."

    "What!  How can we be completely off?"  Travis looked truly puzzled, "They're all nice people."

    Malcolm snorted, "And they're all women."

    The silence was deafening.  Malcolm felt his heart leap into his throat as he looked at the stunned faces of his friends.  It was Hoshi who finally broke the silence, "You're gay?"

    Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound, "Pretty much."

    "But,"  Travis stuttered, "But I thought you went to Risa with Trip so you could pick up women."

    Malcolm shifted uncomfortably in his seat, "Em, about that..."

    All eyes slowly swung to face Trip who looked like he was going to either pass out or explode at any moment.  Aware of Travis and Hoshi's gaze he managed to stutter, "I thought we were picking up women too."  

    Malcolm winced at Trip's frown, "Sorry?"

    "Mal I..."  Trip trailed off and Malcolm decided he wanted to leave.  Now.

    He pushed back his chair and stood, "I've got to go."  His clipped tones were the epitome of military formality, "I have to calibrate the forward targeting scanners."

    He heard Travis give a strangled, "Malcolm." as he turned, but that didn't stop him from quickly leaving the room.


    Malcolm shook off the memory as best he could.  It had haunted him all of last night and all day today.  So far, he'd managed to avoid Travis, Hosh, and Trip, but it was only a matter of time before he was stuck working with them on something.  He consulted the padd he carried.  "18:00 dinner, 19:00 music/dancing in the aft observation lounge, 19:30 chef's chocolate making workshop, 20:00 movie begins, 22:45 fresh cookies served in mess hall..."  The entire ship seemed to be in the Valentine's Day spirit, openly encouraged by the captain no less.  In a sense Malcolm could understand completely, everyone had been running themselves ragged lately and the break was much deserved (and much needed as well).  He checked the chronometer, 19:45, well past the dinner rush.  Malcolm decided he'd chance a visit to the mess hall as Trip had probably left by now.

    The doors swished open and he made his way to the food cupboards as quickly as possible.  He just wanted to grab something that he could eat in his quarters.  He was almost at his destination when a raucous burst of laughter caught his attention.  He froze to the spot and slowly turned his head.  Trip was seated some distance away with a tray of half shaped truffles in front of him, surrounded by female crewmembers.  Malcolm recognized Hoshi and Crewman Kelley as the group burst into laughter again.  Malcolm felt their laughter stab into his heart and cursed his carelessness yesterday.  Trip's reaction had been completely different from Travis and Hoshi's.  They had just been surprised, but unbothered, friends.  There had been something else dancing in Trip's wide eyes.  Just Malcolm's luck that his friend was homophobic.  That was the only conclusion that he could draw from it.  Of course, he'd never be able to ask Trip point blank about it.  Homophobia was pretty much gone these days.  The taboo against it was so strong, besides, it was an allegation that could keep Trip from being promoted.  Heck it could drum him out of the fleet.

    Malcolm broke out of his reverie and was stunned to see Trip staring directly at him.  Malcolm's eyes widened at the intensity of Trip's gaze and he abruptly turned away to escape it.

    There was a thump followed by an "Ooops.  Oh Lieutenant!  I'm so sorry."  Malcolm felt a warm wetness running down his face.  Stunned, he looked down and found the front of his uniform covered in a viscous brown substance.  He raised his eyes and was confronted by the apologetic face of Ensign Cook who was clutching the remains of a bowl of melted chocolate in his hands.  Someone barked out a laugh from across the room and it was only a second before the entire mess dissolved into helpless laughter.

    "It's okay, Ensign.  It was an accident."  Malcolm wheeled around and left the room.  The laughter of his crewmates ringing in his ears.


    "Malcolm!"  Malcolm ignored the call and kept walking.  "Hey Mal, wait up."  The man behind him began to jog, his footfalls echoing in the corridor.  It was a only a few seconds before he overtook the smaller man.  Malcolm felt a hand grasp his shoulder, "Hey, Mal.  You okay?"

    He hand forced him to turn which he did reluctantly.  When he slowly raised his eyes he was amazed to find only concern in Trip's eyes.  "I'm fine.  Just a bit sticky.  Thank you Commander."  He moved to turn away, but the hand forced him back again.

    "Commander?  C'mon, Mal, I thought we were friends."

    Malcolm blinked in surprise, "Friends?"

    Trip frowned, "Yeah Malcolm.  We go on shore leave together, we work on projects together, we play poker together, we chat at 0200 in the mess when we can't sleep, we work out together.  You know, friends."

    Malcolm breathed a sigh of relief, "You still want to be friends, after, you know..."

    Trip's brow furrowed, "Of course, Malcolm."
    Malcolm felt himself fill with relief, "Oh.  I thought I might have buggered it up, or something."

    "Naw, Mal.  That wouldn't screw up our friendship."  Trip watched in fascination as Malcolm seemed to flush at his choice of words.  Everything suddenly made sense.  "Who do you like, Malcolm?"  Malcolm stared intently at Trip, but the man seemed to have finally mastered his poker face.  When Malcolm didn't reply, Trip continued, "'Cause I got to thinking and..."  He trailed off and scrubbed a hand through his hair before he continued, "It seems it might be me."

    Malcolm felt his heart stop.  Trip knew.  Malcolm licked his lips nervously before, on impulse, he jumped in with both feet.  It couldn't get much worse anyhow.  Perhaps he'd be able to salvage the friendship afterwards, "I do like you.  A great deal."

    Trip let out an explosive huff of breath before Malcolm was amazed to see a slow smile light up Trip's features, "Really?  'Cause, there's something only Jon and my family know about me."  Malcolm felt his heart start again, "I'm bi."

    "Bi."  The word was a mere whisper from Malcolm.

    Trip shifted nervously, "And I kinda like you too."  

    "You like me."  A matching smile alighted on Malcolm's features.  "You really like me?"

    "I really, really, really like you."  Trip's infectious grin became even wider.  "So I was wondering..."


    Trip leaned in close and gentry trailed his tongue over a patch of dark chocolate that was stuck to Malcolm's chin before whispering in the other man's ear, "I was wondering if you'd like some help cleaning up because you look good enough to eat."  Trip moved and, in the corridor, captured Malcolm's lips in their first kiss together.  

    Malcolm stiffened at first, hyper aware of their surroundings, before he decided that this was Trip.  He was in love.  And he couldn't care less who found out.  Malcolm kissed back fervently, reaching up and cupping the back of Trip's neck with his hands.

    They eventually parted and Trip was overjoyed to see a happy gleam in Malcolm's eye, "That would be lovely."

    Trip reached down and took Malcolm's slightly sticky hand, guiding the other man to his quarters.  "Happy Valentine's Day, Malcolm."

    "Happy Valentine's Day, Trip."