Title: Good Intentions Contact: kelhapam@metrocast.net Series: ENT Rating: PG-13 Code: R/S Part: 1/2 NEW Date: December 3, 2002

Summary: Malcolm gives Hoshi a Holiday gift...it's a surprise for her...and him.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns all the characters, etc., I am just using the characters for a little fun and relaxation.

Note of Appreciation. Special thanks to my beta readers: Valorie, Tex, Ronda, and P.J. Sutherland

Posting: Please notify me before you do.

Good Intentions

12/03/02 (Revised 12/13/03)

Standing under a torn canopy to avoid the daily afternoon deluge of rain, Malcolm withdrew a carefully folded slip of paper from his pocket and looked at it again. Nothing had changed since the last several times he'd looked at it. All the other items on the list had been checked off. But the last item remained unchecked. This would be his last opportunity to take care of that stubborn task and to get down to the planet before they broke orbit.

Time was rapidly running out.

A week ago, when the crew learned it would be visiting Xeleedia, Liz Cutler had come up with a plan to help boost crew morale by having a small holiday party on the ship. She had arranged for each member of the crew to provide a small gift for another member by drawing names. Malcolm had been reluctant to go along with this celebration, but the Captain had insisted the senior staff comply to set a good example for the rest of the crew. As such, he had dutifully put his hand into the basket and was surprised to pull out Hoshi Sato's name. He'd hoped to select some innocuous crewmember, but instead drew the name of someone on the ship he dearly didn't want to disappoint. And now, near the end of their last day on the planet, it looked like that was exactly what was going to happen.

This was the eighth or ninth shop Malcolm had stopped at this afternoon on the Xeleedian homeworld, which boasted the "Largest Shopping District in Five Star Sectors," and those didn't even count the myriad of other stores he had visited yesterday. He'd never been a shopper, choosing instead to resort to the age-old standby of giving his family and friends gift certificates when the season rolled around. But this time opting for the easy way out was out of the question. It wasn't like they were going to find a Xeleedian chain store on Risa or Vulcan.

Standing outside the door of a rundown store, he was loathe to leave what little shelter the canopy provided to venture across the wide open plaza and into yet another more prosperous store. Figuring he had nothing to lose, he decided to enter the old shop. The door creaked with protest as Malcolm opened it, further testimony as to the age of the establishment.

Upon entry, the mustiness of the interior assailed his senses. Malcolm Reed was thankful he'd recently received his allergy booster, otherwise he'd be sneezing up a storm to rival the one outside. Looking around, he noted a great number of old books which lined many meters of wooden shelves from floor to ceiling.

"Can I help you, young man?"

Malcolm turned to find a grizzled old gentleman approaching him. The stout man was approximately a meter and a half tall and had a long white beard which covered the purple mottling all Xeleedians had on their chins. He was dressed in worn brown trousers and a long-sleeved bright red shirt. He also wore the thick white gloves which all Xeleedians Malcolm had met, seemed to wear. The Tactical Officer couldn't help but think he looked like a miniature version of Father Christmas.

"Actually, I'm searching for a gift. I'm not sure if you can help."

"Of course I can help!" the old man said extending his arms wide. I have many books which might suit your needs." Then he stopped abruptly and dropped his arms. "The recipient of the gift can read can't he?"

"Oh yes, *she* can read very well, in many different languages," Malcolm reassured the shopkeeper with pride. "She's an accomplished linguist."

The old man beamed, his smile wide and welcoming. "Well, well, you've come to the right place. Do you know what she likes to read? What her interests are?"

"Actually I'm not really sure. I serve on the same ship with her, but I don't know that much about her other than she likes languages." "You know nothing else?" he asked incredulously, as he removed one of the white gloves. Approaching the Tactical Officer, he poked Malcolm in the chest with his now bare finger. "How long have you served on your ship with this woman?"

"Um...over a year in our time, actually almost a year and a half. I'm not sure how that would translate into Xeleedian standards."

"It sounds like a long time," the old man said, still keeping his finger on Malcolm's chest. "You like this woman?"

"Like her?"

"You know, do you *like* her?" The man cocked his head to one side as if addressing a slow-witted child.

"Of course I like her," Malcolm assured him.

The old man closed his eyes, his finger still in place on Malcolm's torso.

"Sir?" Malcolm asked after several moments had passed, thinking the man had fallen asleep standing up.

The old eyes snapped open and quickly he removed his hand put on his glove. "You *do* like her. More than like. Yes, yes. I see now!" The old gray head nodded up and down and removed his finger from the armory officer's torso.

"Sir?" Malcolm rubbed at the spot on his chest the old man had touched. For some reason, it seemed to tingle.

"You say that a lot don't you?"

"Excuse me?"

"This 'sir'."

Malcolm shrugged. "Habit and training I'm afraid, and I don't know your name." The younger man crossed his arms across his chest. "How should I address you?"

"Oh, you can call me 'San-clus'," he said with a shrug. "Everyone does."

Malcolm nodded.

"Now tell me, think back, what does this lady like, besides languages? Maybe she has a hobby? Did she ever mention one?"

"Not that I recall," he said with a shake of his head.

"Are you sure?"

"Well she likes animals," Malcolm replied. "She did become quite attached to a slug once, and she does seem fond of the Captain's beagle."

"Maybe something that she mentioned to you once, maybe when you were um...perhaps dining?" The man's eyes were bright, his mouth open, waiting for his customer to supply him with the information he needed.

"Hmmm. Once, when we were eating a meal together, she did mention that she liked to cook."

"That's it! The very thing! What you need is a cookbook!" San-clus waved his arms excitedly and he moved away from Malcolm and towards the back of the store.

The Brit followed in his wake. "A cookbook, are you sure?" It didn't seem like much of a gift to him. Not when he wanted to make sure he was getting her something as special as he felt she deserved.

"Not just any cookbook, my young man, but a very unique cookbook. One which she will always treasure."

"But it's just a cookbook, and she's..."

San-clus turned to face the lieutenant, his eyes wide. "Yes? She's what?"

"Well, she deserves the best."

"And if you get her this book, she'll have the best. Trust me, I've never steered anyone wrong. I've been in this business for a very, very long time. Everyone comes back to San-clus and thanks me for my advice and for the gifts they purchase."

"Well if you insist." Malcolm sounded unsure, but he was desperate, he had to report back to the shuttle soon. "Besides, I'm running out of time, I have to be back on the ship before the next work shift."

The old man continued his trek back through the stacks. "It was fated that you come here. And here," he pointed up to one of the shelves above his head, at a old, leather-bound tome. "is the very book you need and deserve."

"I think you'll need a ladder," Malcolm suggested looking up at the shelf in question.

"No ladder, I have you. You look strong. Just give me a boost up on your shoulders and I'll bring it down. I do it all the time."

Malcolm had no option, either let the man crawl up on his shoulders, or go back to the ship empty handed. Bending down, he let the man swing one leg over the back of his neck and he stood up carefully, the man seated on his shoulders, being sure not to lose his balance.

"Move a little further to your left," San-clus suggested. "There, just a little bit more, my friend." Placing one hand against one of the shelves, the old man pulled himself up even higher. Bracing himself against the bookcase with his free hand, he pulled the large cookbook off the shelf with the other and into the safety of his arms.

Slowly Malcolm lowered the man and the book to the floor. Walking back to the front of the store, the Tactical Officer reached into his pocket so he could pay the man with the local currency, which had been provided during a trade of cultural data when the Enterprise crew had first arrived on Xeleedia.

"Keep your money," San-clus insisted with a shake of his head. "Consider this a gift from me to you." Deftly he tied red twine around the book before placing the tome inside a pristine white box. Securing the lid to it with the same red twine, he handed package to Malcolm.

"But..."

"No, I insist. I should not have placed my skin against your body. It made for an unfair transaction. If the Ministry of Marketing were to find out, I could lose my license."

"Excuse me?"

"When I removed my glove and touched you there." The old man once again touched Malcolm on the chest, but this time with his glove on. "I could sense your feelings, that was how I knew what book would be appropriate."

"You read my mind?" Malcolm asked not liking the implications.

"Not really. It's not that complicated. We can't feel anything specific. I can't see anything technical or what you would deem perhaps to be a security risk. It's just a sense of what is right in regards to someone you love. Love knows all." The old man shook his head. "It's hard to explain to an off-worlder."

"I never said I loved her."

The old man smiled fondly and chuckled. "You didn't have to."

Patting Malcolm on the back, San-clus escorted the Tactical Officer out of his shop and into the bright sunshine outside.

* * * * * *

"Blimey, I'll never get this right!" Malcolm balled up another sheet of wrapping paper and tossed it into the recycler. He was in the process of ripping off another piece from the roll of brightly colored paper, when he heard his door chime buzz. Frustrated he dropped the paper and moving to the door pressed the release button.

"What can I do for... Oh, Ensign Cutler, I'm sorry, I thought it was..."

"No need to apologize, Lieutenant. I was just checking up that you are all set for the festivities tonight."

"Well I have the gift, but I'm having a problem wrapping the bloody thing." He dragged his fingers through his hair. "I can make a bed in my sleep which can pass military inspection, but I've never been very good at wrapping presents." He looked down at the white box on the table as if it were an alien invader.

"Look, I know you have to go on duty shortly, right?"

Malcolm nodded.

"Why don't you give it to me, and I'll wrap it up all pretty and make sure it's there this evening in time for the party."

"I'd appreciate that, but do you have the time?"

"I'll make the time. Don't worry, I'll take care of everything."

"You're a life saver."

She shook her head. "Naw, I'm just trying to make sure everything is perfect for tonight. After all this was my idea."

"I just hope Hoshi will like my gift," Malcolm said as he walked back to the table to pick up the box. "The man at the bookstore assured me she would, but I don't know. It's just a cookbook." He passed the package to Liz Cutler along with the wrapping paper and ribbon.

"It's important to you, isn't it?"

"Excuse me? I don't follow."

"The gift, Lieutenant. It's important to you that she like the gift."

"Why of course it is. Everyone should receive something they like, shouldn't they?"

"That's not exactly what I meant. I mean, you are especially concerned that Hoshi will like what you got her."

He nodded--carefully not exactly sure what Liz meant.

She took a step forward and lowered her voice. "I mean, you care about her."

Did everyone know? "I never said..."

Cutler smiled softly and touched Malcolm's arm with her free hand. "You didn't need to. You see, I'm very observant."

Malcolm shook his head and turned away from the ensign running his hand down the back of his neck. "Oh hell, am I that obvious?"

"Relax, Lieutenant. I'm sure no one else noticed a thing. I just happen to be rather sensitive to people's feelings. Did you notice Chef had his eye on Rebecca Sims in Engineering for three whole months before he asked her out?"

He turned towards her. "Can't say I have."

"See, I'm pretty good about this stuff. I could also tell you half a dozen other people on Enterprise who are attracted to someone else on the ship, but I'm circumspect. I know to keep my mouth shut about what I see and hear."

"So my secret is safe with you?" Malcolm asked.

Cutler raised her hand solemnly. "I promise not to say a word."

"I appreciate that."

With a nod and the box and wrapping paper clutched to her chest, Liz left the lieutenant's cabin.

Cutler, exited Malcolm's cabin and returned to her own quarters. Taking the book out of the box, she set it aside with a frown. "I said I wouldn't *say* anything, Malcolm Reed, but that's all I promised." Untying the red twine, Liz removed the lid of the box and took out the cookbook. Reaching under her bed, she withdrew a large brown rectangular basket. Looking through the contents of the basket, Liz withdrew the item she'd been searching for. "She may not like the cookbook, Lt. Reed," she said out loud as she placed her addition to Hoshi's holiday gift in the bottom of the box. "But I'll guarantee she'll like this." Putting the cookbook on top of her addition to Malcolm's gift, she replaced the box lid, retied the twine, and began to wrap it.

* * * * * * *

end part 1