Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, and I'm not making any money on this story.

**

Author's note: no engineers were harmed in the making of this story. One armory officer gets bonked on the head.

Be forewarned, there is Reed/T'Pol romance in this piece. If you don't like that idea, you would be advised to skip this story. I happen to think they would be cute together, so I don't plan to apologize. Too bad the writers turn him into a complete and total dork every time he interacts with her (cf: "Shuttlepod One" and "Crossings" or whatever that episode was called).

**

Castaways

By Navigatio

Chapter 1. Shipwrecked

"Bloody hell!" was all Malcolm had time to say before every klaxon, alarm, and siren began clanging simultaneously and the shuttlepod, which had been cruising along at full impulse, dropped abruptly to a crawl and swayed sickeningly from side to side.

"What is happening?" T'Pol called over the din, making her way to the front of the shuttle and clutching the back of Malcolm's seat to avoid being thrown off her feet.

"Gravity well!" he shouted back, fighting with the controls to right the craft.

"Reverse thrusters!" T'Pol ordered, but Malcolm shook his head.

"It's no use. We're already past the event horizon!" T'Pol reached around him and pressed the controls to shut off the klaxon. "Best hang on, this is going to be rough!" Malcolm continued in a voice which was much too loud in the suddenly quiet cabin.

T'Pol sat in the copilot's seat and pressed her finger to the comm. controls. "T'Pol to Enterprise." There was no response, as Malcolm had expected. They were well out of communications range with the ship. T'Pol pressed another control. "Mayday. This is a distress call to any ship in the vicinity. We have been pulled into a gravity well. Please respond." The only reply was a brief crackle from the comm., then nothing.

For a moment, everything went deathly silent as the impulse engines cut out as well. The only sound was Malcolm's breathing, quickened by a hefty jolt of adrenaline. He knew the gravity well would eventually spit them out the other end. What he wasn't sure about was whether the shuttlepod could withstand the crushing forces within.

Suddenly, as if in answer to Malcolm's unspoken question, the metal frame surrounding them began to creak ominously. As he watched several dents appeared in the walls of the shuttle.

"The shuttlepod-"

"Shhh!" T'Pol interrupted. She held up her hand for silence, obviously concentrating on some sound he could not perceive. Malcolm waited as noiselessly as possible, trying to quiet his breathing. The sound of his heart pounding in his ears drowned out all external sounds.

"Oxygen is escaping," T'Pol said finally, turning her head from side to side in an apparent attempt to locate the source. "There." She pointed to the back corner of the shuttle, near the ceiling.

Malcolm sprang from his seat and hurried to the spot. When he got closer he too could hear the faint hiss of their precious oxygen being sucked out in the vacuum of space. He found the source, a tiny hole no larger than a pinprick, and, standing on the back bench, covered it with his right forefinger. To his surprise the hissing sound continued, nearly masked by the creaks and groans of the shuttle's frame buckling inward.

"Damn!" Malcolm found another pin-sized hole half a meter from the first and pressed his left forefinger over it. The hissing stopped abruptly. Then T'Pol was standing on the bench behind him with the soldering tool. He removed his finger from the hole closest to her and she quickly patched it. Carefully they changed positions, her body pressed against his back while they maneuvered on the narrow bench. As soon as she was in position, he removed his hand and hastily scooted out of her way while she patched the other hole.

The shuttle, which had been gently spiraling, suddenly tumbled sharply, throwing T'Pol from the bench. She rolled gracefully and sprang to her feet, bouncing in the sudden lack of gravity. Malcolm, who had already reached a seat in the middle of the shuttle before the turbulence hit, captured T'Pol's arm and pulled her down into the chair beside him. Both buckled* themselves in and grimly hung on while the shuttle tossed them ever more violently in every direction.

The creaking and groaning from the metal frame increased in intensity until it became a screech. Watching T'Pol's face, Malcolm could see that it was causing her physical pain. He winced in sympathy.

The hissing sound started up again, this time sounding as if it were coming from all around them. On all sides the shuttles' frame was beginning to buckle and give way under the extreme gravitational forces.

Another violent jolt shook the shuttle, and then sudden acceleration pressed them into their seats. The stars out the front viewport compressed and distorted before returning to normal as the acceleration ceased. The shuttle, with no functioning engines, continued to tumble aimlessly in space. The klaxons and sirens started up again.

"We've been thrown clear!" Malcolm shouted, unbuckling himself from the seat and fighting his way to the front of the shuttle. Looming directly in front of them, now filling the viewscreen, was an enormous blue-green planet.

Malcolm fought with the controls in a frantic attempt to coax the engines back to life, but to no avail. Thrusters stubbornly refused to respond. Without engines, they were definitely in for a rough landing.

He was peripherally aware that T'Pol had once again silenced the alarms and was sending another distress call, which got no audible response.

"Engines are off-line. We're going in," he said as calmly as he could under the circumstances. T'Pol was out of her seat again, applying the soldering tool to every hull breach she could find. The craft began to shudder violently as they approached the atmosphere.

Malcolm fought the controls again, trying to keep the nose of the craft up and the angle shallow enough for them to avoid burning up on re-entry. The cabin became uncomfortably hot. In irritation, Malcolm wiped the sweat from his eyes with his forearm.

T'Pol, who had returned to her seat in the front of the shuttle, calmly buckled herself in and checked the sensors. "Oxygen-Nitrogen atmosphere. Abundant vegetation, no signs of large animal life," she reported.

"Great," Malcolm returned sarcastically. "So provided we survive re-entry we'll have plenty to eat."

"It is unknown whether the vegetation is edible for our species," T'Pol responded evenly, either not perceiving or blithely ignoring his sarcastic tone.

Malcolm didn't have time to think of a comeback because at that moment they broke through the atmosphere and the ground rushed up much too quickly. With no thrusters, he was helpless to slow their descent.

"Come on, pull up, pull up," he muttered, struggling to force the controls to respond with little success. The craft jolted as it contacted the tips of the trees, for a moment skimming along the treetops and then slamming into the ground and continuing to skid. Pieces of metal flew off on impact, which left the cabin exposed to the air.

Ahead of them Malcolm could see that the ground, which had been fairly level, dropped off abruptly to leave only open sky. The shuttlepod hit the precipice and tilted precariously, hanging for a moment balanced on the edge.

Slowly the craft tipped over the edge of the cliff. Out the front windshield, maybe a hundred meters down, was only a wall of gray. A small voice in the back of Malcolm's mind whispered, "water . . ." and then with a stomach-turning lurch they were free-falling.

Malcolm heard himself screaming before the nose of the shuttle impacted the surface of the water. He flew forward and struck his face on edge of the control panel. Freezing cold water poured in around him. He was vaguely aware of T'Pol calling his name, then it was drowned out by the water closing in over his head, and he knew no more.

**

"Lieutenant!" T'Pol shouted over the roar of water rushing in through the breaches in the shuttle's hull. She got a brief glimpse of Reed's face, covered in bright red blood, before he was completely submerged. Unbuckling her seatbelt, she struggled through the chest-high water to his side. Taking hold of his arm, she flipped him over so that his face was out of the water. She towed him with her to the back of the shuttle where she pulled the emergency kit from its storage place and heaved the strap over her shoulder and neck.

The shuttle, which had leveled out after the initial impact with the water, tilted nose down again and began to sink. Still holding Reed's head out of the water with one hand, T'Pol fumbled under the water for the handle to open the hatch. When her fingers closed on the lever she heaved it upward with all of her strength, which caused the hatch to blow forcibly outward. The shuttle recoiled backward, throwing her off her feet and nearly causing her to lose her grip on Lieutenant Reed's limp body.

T'Pol shifted Reed around until his back was against her front, and hooked her arm under his chin to keep his face out of the water as best she could in the rapidly shrinking air pocket. Judging by the dimness of the light filtering in through the windows, she estimated the shuttle was already several meters below the surface.

Taking one last deep breath, T'Pol ducked beneath the water and out the hatch. Once free of the sinking shuttle, she kicked for the surface, towing Reed along behind her.

As soon as they broke the surface of the water, T'Pol hauled Reed around in front of her, paddling with both feet and holding his head clear of the water with her hands. Blood still poured freely from a deep gash on his cheek. T'Pol waited, and after several seconds was rewarded with the sound of a shallow breath.

Satisfied that he was breathing on his own, T'Pol pivoted in place until she spotted the shore, over a hundred meters away. She tucked Reed's head in against her shoulder, hooked her hand under his chin, and began to paddle expertly in the direction of land, her rapid pace quickly eating up the distance.

As she swam, T'Pol reflected with some amusement that her colleagues on Vulcan would hardly have recognized her at this moment. Swimming was not exactly a national pastime on her home planet, which had no free groundwater. She had learned to swim at a pool near the Vulcan embassy on Earth, doing laps in the predawn hours when the water was nearly deserted. Like any other physical activity, swimming had come naturally to her. She soon found that her skill in the water was viewed with suspicion and even open contempt by her Vulcan colleagues, which for some reason amused and delighted her much more than was appropriate.

After several minutes of hard swimming, T'Pol reached a point where the water became shallow enough for her to touch the sandy bottom. She dragged Reed's limp body out onto the shore and immediately checked his vitals. His pulse was strong, respirations shallow but steady.

Hands shaking from the cold, T'Pol examined his face, gently probing around the gash with the pads of her fingers. The skin was discolored and swollen, but his maxilliary and zygomatic bones appeared to be intact. She zipped open the emergency kit and took out a small towel, a bandage, and a tube of antibiotic ointment. After she had wiped away the blood and water as best she could, she applied the ointment and bandage to the cut.

Next T'Pol opened an emergency blanket and laid it on the ground next to Reed. She stripped off his cold, wet clothing and hauled him naked onto the blanket. He was covered in wet sand, but that could not be helped. He was in no condition to complain at this point anyway.

T'Pol wrapped the blanket around him. After again checking his vitals and finding them still strong, she scouted around for wood, with which she built a cozy fire fifty or so meters from the shore. As soon as the blaze was burning well, she took hold of Reed's blanket and dragged him over next to the fire.

While T'Pol was squeezing the water from Reed's saturated clothing, she discovered his communicator in the pocket on the sleeve. Her own communicator had disappeared with the shuttle. When she opened the cover, nothing happened-no chitter of an opening channel, no lights, nothing. She turned the device over and water trickled out from a crack in the housing.

With a small sigh, T'Pol set the communicator aside for later study and returned to the task of hanging Reed's clothing up to dry. Judging by the position of the sun, it was early afternoon. If the current temperature was any indication, Reed would need dry clothing to survive the night.

**

Malcolm returned to consciousness suddenly, gasping and thrashing. Water! He was in water! His arms were pinned, he couldn't get out. Drowning, can't breathe, he thought frantically.

He felt hands on his shoulders. "Lieutenant," T'Pol's voice broke through the nightmare. He sat up with a terrified gasp and looked around wildly.

"What-what--?"

"It's all right, Lieutenant," T'Pol said soothingly, hands tugging the blanket up around his shoulders. "You are on land."

"The shuttle--?" He scanned the campsite in confusion.

"It sank." T'Pol sat back on her heels and gestured to the lake, which was barely visible in the dim light of early evening.

"I see." Malcolm sat in silence for a moment while he digested that bit of information. "What about our communicators?"

"Mine is missing, yours is damaged."

"Ah." After another moment of silent contemplation, Malcolm came to realize that he was freezing. He looked down and was aghast to discover that he was naked. Completely naked. He wrapped the blanket more tightly around his shoulders in embarrassment. When he finally met T'Pol's eye, he could have sworn he saw amusement there.

"My clothing . . . you . . . you took off my clothing," he said stupidly. Despite the cold, he could feel the heat of shame climbing up the back of his neck and over his cheeks.

"Yes. It was wet."

Malcolm spluttered incoherently.

"It is dry now. Would you like it back?"

"Yes, please!" he answered quickly. She rose gracefully and crossed to the fire, where his clothing was draped over tree branches, returning after a moment with a bundle which she held out to him. He snaked out one bare arm from beneath the blanket and snatched the bundle from her hand.

Malcolm hastily located his underwear, which was still slightly damp around the waistband. He looked up to find that T'Pol was watching him, hands clasped behind her back.

"If you don't mind?" he snapped. She raised a questioning eyebrow at him. "I'd appreciate a little privacy."

"You may require my assistance."

"I think I can get dressed quite well on my own, thank you. Now if you please?"

T'Pol's shoulder moved upward slightly in a tiny shrug. As soon as her back was to him, Malcolm stood, dropped the blanket, and began to vigorously brush off the sand that clung to his skin. Even though he knew there was no one around, he still felt acutely self-conscious at being so exposed. In the end, his need for modesty won out over his desire for cleanliness, and he hurriedly pulled on his clothes without thoroughly removing all the sand. His uniform smelled unpleasantly of smoke and stagnant water.

"It'll be night soon. We'll need a shelter," Malcolm said while zipping up his coverall. "I'll gather some branches."

T'Pol turned toward him. "Be seated, Lieutenant," she said. "I will build a shelter."

"Nonsense, why should I sit around and let you do all the work?" Malcolm put his foot up on a nearby rock and began to lace up his boots.

"It is not nonsense. You will put the blanket around yourself and sit by the fire."

"Sub-Commander-"

"That is an order, Lieutenant," T'Pol said firmly, placing light emphasis on his rank. "You are injured. It is advisable for you to rest."

"I will rest, as soon as we finish building a shelter."

T'Pol raised her voice ever so slightly. "Lieutenant, follow my orders. Be seated."

"I'm fine," Malcolm grumbled under his breath, but he did as he was told, wrapping up in his blanket and settling himself cross-legged on the ground facing the fire. T'Pol went back to the task she had apparently been working on when he woke up, namely arranging leafy twigs over the branches of two nearby trees to form a crude shelter. Malcolm stared into the fire, but watched her work out of the corner of his eye. She was haphazardly laying out the branches across the gap between the two trees.

"The roof would be more water-resistant if you were to interlace the branches," Malcolm called to her.

"I do not believe it will rain tonight. I can build a more secure shelter in the morning."

Malcolm held his tongue with an effort. He knew it would be no use to argue-T'Pol would just order him to remain silent, and the fight would be over before it even began. Sometimes he wished he could be more like Trip, saying and doing whatever came to his mind without worrying about the consequences. On the other hand, Trip's mouth often got him in trouble, and would even more often if the Captain were stricter about proper procedure.

Thinking about his friends gave Malcolm a momentary pang as it reminded him that they were very far away. In their current situation, it looked as if he wouldn't be seeing them anytime soon. He was stuck here with the ice queen for the foreseeable future. Malcolm sighed softly, hoping T'Pol's sensitive ears wouldn't be able to pick it up.

**

Night fell, clear and cold, with a promise of frost on the air. T'Pol had rationed out one protein bar to Lieutenant Reed and one to herself, along with a pouch of water. Now they lay wrapped in their blankets on opposite sides of the fire. Reed had barely spoken to her since she had ordered him to sit. Reading his body language, T'Pol was fairly certain he was irritated with her, as in fact she herself was mildly irritated with him.

T'Pol attempted to clear her mind for sleep, but was distracted by a quiet sound coming Lieutenant Reed's direction. A rapid clicking sound. After a moment she realized it was his teeth chattering in the cold.

"Lieutenant, are you all right?"

"It's damn cold, Sub-Commander."

"You would be warmer if we put our blankets together," she said sensibly.

There was a pause; her suggestion hung in the frozen air. After a moment he said icily, "Is that an order?"

T'Pol was surprised enough that she responded quickly, "No, it is not."

For several minutes there was silence. Reed's teeth were no longer chattering, but she could still hear his quiet breathing, carried to her ears on the still night air. T'Pol turned over, facing away from him, and resumed trying to sleep. Finally she heard a rustling sound, now drawing closer.

"Sub-Commander?" T'Pol turned onto her back and discovered that Reed was standing over her, blanket in hand and an embarrassed expression on his face.

"Is the offer still open?"

In response, T'Pol pulled back her blanket, spreading it out on the ground. He lay down beside her and covered them both with his blanket, and they tucked it in around the edges.

"Good night," he said when they were tucked in together. He rolled onto his side, facing away from her, his body not touching hers. She could feel him shivering, the motion transferred to her through the blanket.

T'Pol considered what to do. He was clearly cold. Physical contact would provide warmth to them both, although he would benefit more as his body temperature was normally lower than her own. She was aware that if she touched him he was likely to have an adverse reaction, most probably embarrassment. There was also the possibility that he would misinterpret the gesture.

T'Pol chided herself for putting consideration of emotions over physical comfort. He was cold, she could warm him, so why did she hesitate? She turned her body to face the same direction as he was, sliding in closer until she was pressed against his back, her knees bent behind his. His spine stiffened noticeably with the contact.

She pressed on, risking further offense by slipping her arm around his waist and laying her hand lightly against his tense abdomen. His clothing was still damp, she realized, which would add to his perception of the cold. She moved in closer, her arm tightening around him, and after a moment the muscles in his shoulders and stomach began to slacken by degrees, until he lay relaxed against her. His breathing grew shallow and rhythmic.

Closing her eyes, T'Pol again attempted to sleep. She had expected it to be difficult, with the weight of his body against her, the smoky, musty smell of his clothing sharp in her nostrils. But her own exhaustion after a very trying day won out, and she too soon slipped into slumber.

**

A/N: *Ok, ok, I know they never wear seatbelts, but doesn't it seem like they should?

**