Title: Star-Gazing

Author: Michmak

Rating: PG-13 – nothing graphic

Disclaimers: Wished I owned them. Don't. No money. Don't
sue.

Notes: A continuation of sorts on Bridge, Sato Voce, Strays and
Drowning – movement forward in the relationship. This will lead
into (hopefully) a larger story I am working on, and currently
losing sleep over…..

____________


Malcolm raised the telescope to his eye and looked up into the sky, trying to locate Enterprise. Beside him, Hoshi eagerly waited her turn. They had been told by the Xenla'dyt that the atmosphere surrounding Bat'tar made celestial viewings especially colorful, especially at night time.

The triple moons of Bat'tar just cresting over the horizon proved that – the moons were tinged a variety of different colors, ranging from a subtle pink to a vibrant orange. Standing in the middle of the empty field several hundred meters to the left of their lodgings, Malcolm had to admit the affect was stunning. There was still enough light refracting from the west that the colors the moons cast seemed to dance around them. Malcolm felt almost as if he had stepped into a prism.

"Have you spotted the ship yet?" Hoshi bounced on her toes beside him.

Malcolm frowned and tried to adjust the telescope, before admitting defeat. "I hate these things," he grumbled as he handed it to Hoshi and tried to ignore her suddenly wide grin. He knew what was coming.

"You come from a family of Navy Men and you can't use a telescope?" She managed to make the words `Navy Men' sound grave and serious, but her giggle gave her away.

Malcolm shrugged, "Not much use for one in space, is there?"

Hoshi smiled again as she held the `scope to her eye, and carefully started adjusting it. "Didn't your father ever teach you how to use one?"

"Reed men don't need to be `taught' things like proper telescope use. We're supposed to be born with genetic memory," Malcolm tried to keep the slight bitterness from creeping into his tone. "My father had no patience to teach me things he felt I should already have known."

Hoshi dropped her hands to her side, slid the telescope shut, and turned to look at him. He tried to ignore the way the myriad of lights danced in her eyes and on her skin, casting an ethereal glow around her. She looked like she had walked through a rainbow, and parts of it were still floating around her.

"Your father was an ass."

Malcolm smiled at her, "Yes, he was. Did you see Enterprise?"

Hoshi shook her head, "I can't figure out these damn things either." Tossing the telescope to the ground she sank down beside it and lay back in the grass, staring at the sky. "This is really beautiful. You forget how pretty the moonlight can be when you're on a space ship."

Casting a quick glance at Malcolm, she grinned at his trying-to-be casual at-ease stance; knees slightly relaxed, hands clasped behind his back loosely. "You're blocking out the sky. Quit looming over me and sit down – the view is much better from here."

Malcolm wondered how to respond, before allowing himself to gingerly sit down beside her. The ground felt surprisingly warm beneath him, and he barely repressed a contented sigh as his fingers twined through the thick grass-like vegetation surrounding him.

Hoshi, still on her back, nudged his leg with her foot, "Lean back and look up – isn't this spectacular? Trip is going to be so jealous when we tell him about this!"

Malcolm half-grinned at that, and slowly rested back on his elbows until he was almost completely supine. "I don't remember the last time I did something like this," he offered quietly. "Perhaps when I was a lad, with the Eagle Scouts – when I was working on my astronomy badge."

"I love star-gazing," Hoshi replied. "I still do it at night sometimes, on the ship. Of course, it's not the same when you're lying in a little bunk looking at stars as they're streaking past you. I much prefer this – lying in the middle of a field, with stationary stars twinkling overhead, and someone to share the view with."

Smiling at Malcolm, she nudged him with her foot again. "Of course, the stars look much better if you're lying flat on your back," she teased. "Relax Lieutenant; I'm sure no one's going to jump you here."

"I'm not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed," Malcolm replied dryly, before his brain could stop his mouth.

Hoshi giggled as the light of the moons did nothing to hide the sudden color that stained his cheeks, and wondered if her own blush was just as obvious. Her mind, already contemplating what it would be like to watch the stars from her bunk with him, had merrily boarded the `jump Malcolm' train.

Trying to derail those thoughts wouldn't be easy, especially since the air around them was suddenly thick with tension – all emanating from the man next to her, awkwardly clearing his throat. "I apologize, Ensign. I didn't mean that the way it sounded…"

Sensing that her armory officer was preparing to flee, Hoshi scooted her body a little closer to his and quickly reached out, snagging his elbow and pulling it towards her, making his back hit the ground with a soft thump.

"Relax Malcolm, and look at the stars. Do you think the Xenla'dyt name their constellations? Perhaps we should ask them tomorrow. I wonder if they have myths surrounding their stars like we do. Those ones up there look a little like Cassiopeia," she whispered, pointing above them and over to her left, "don't you think?"

She could feel Malcolm relaxing again beside her, shifting his body into a more comfortable position in the grass. "Which ones are you pointing at?" His voice was soft, his accent a deep rumble, as his gaze followed the length of her arm, trying to determine what she was looking at.

Hoshi rolled to her side and propped herself up on one elbow, trying to ignore the feel of Malcolm's arm and leg warming against her, "Right over there – see? There's her upside down crown."

Malcolm turned his head towards her and felt her hair, which was just sweeping the ground, catch slightly in the breeze and whisper across his face. It smelled of ginger and sesame and the scent, along with the light touch of her body along his side, was making his heart race. He wondered idly if she could hear it, even as he contemplated turning into her and burying his face in the luxurious strands. Shutting his eyes to ward of temptation, he groaned softly as he felt Hoshi lean in even closer.

"Malcolm, you can't see what I'm pointing at if you don't open your eyes."

Cursing to himself silently, he turned his head more fully towards her and slowly opened his eyes. He realized he didn't want to look at any stars – at least not the celestial kind. He just wanted to look at her. Hoshi-gazing. It could be his new past-time. "You're so beautiful."

Hoshi looked at him, startled as much by what he said as she was with the matter-of-fact way he had said it. "Wha…pardon me?"

Malcolm wasn't sure if her shell-shocked expression boded good or ill for him, and he smiled as he realized his little linguist was speechless. Rolling to his side, he gently lifted his hand and ran his index finger across her upper lip. `Damn the torpedoes,' he thought to himself, `I'm going in!'

"I said, 'You're so beautiful.'"

"That's what I thought you said," Hoshi whispered.


Malcolm's hand had moved to cup her cheek, and she tilted her head into his palm, reveling in the calluses she could feel, even as her eyes drifted shut against the sudden emotion threatening to overwhelm her. Neither said anything for a few seconds, but Hoshi took advantage of the silence to press even closer into him. The heat of his body was addictive.

"Hoshi," Malcolm groaned softly as he felt her arm drift up his leg before wrapping loosely around his waist. His hand slid from her cheek into her hair, his fingers tangling themselves in her silken strands as he tugged her face closer to his. Her eyes were still closed. "Look at me, Hoshi."

He had always loved her eyes. They were bottomless – eyes he could live in for eternity. He wasn't sure if the longing he saw in them was merely reflecting back at him from his own eyes, but he was willing to find out.

"Malcolm," her voice was so soft it was barely discernible over the fierce pounding in his veins. "Malcolm, please…."

He was lost. Her lips were softer than he would have believed; her mouth impossibly warm. He could feel her one hand tighten around his waist, her fingers clenching into the material of his uniform and scrapping against his back, even as her other hand wrapped around the back of his neck and threaded through his hair.

He tasted her sighs and swallowed her soft moans, reveling in the slightly spicy taste of her mouth – remnants of the ceremonial drink the Xenla'dyt had offered her upon completion of the first day of successful trade negotiations. At the time, he hadn't cared for the taste, but when mixed with Hoshi he realized how potent it was. He would have to ask their hosts if they could spare some for their return to Enterprise.

Rolling to his back to free the hand that wasn't trapped in her hair, he pulled a willing Hoshi with him. Her slight weight against him, coupled with the heat of her body, was almost unbearably pleasurable. He could feel the tensile strength of her slim thighs on either side of him, and rocked his hips into her as he wrapped his arm more tightly around her.

He realized with the bit of rational mind he had left that things were quickly getting out of hand. His Hoshi deserved better than this – a quick fumbling in the dark on an alien planet, in the dirt. Sighing with frustration and more than a little bit of regret, he untangled his fingers from her hair and gently pulled away from her.

"Hoshi, love, we have to stop…" His hands were now on her shoulders, pushing her up. He could feel the sudden tenseness in her, and wondered if he would ever have the chance to hold her like this again. He almost felt like pulling her back to him when he felt her sit up, but was gratified when she stayed where she was, straddling his body.

She was a goddess. Her eyes were slumberous, yet sparking with passion, her lips bruised from their kisses, her hair a nimbus around her head. His hands drifted down from her shoulders to her waist, his thumbs rubbing in circular motions against her hip bones. "Hoshi, I…"

Words failed him. He had never been a communicator - had always been a firm believer of actions speaking louder than words – yet, for the first time ever, he wished this wasn't so. He wanted to give her the words, because words were important to her. He just didn't have the words he needed to describe all she made him feel.

"Hoshi, I…"

Smiling tenderly at him, Hoshi leaned forward and propped her elbows on his chest, letting one hand run gently over his mouth. "I love you, Malcolm."

He grabbed her hand, kissing it, feeling her words crashing against him, breaking his silence. "You own my Lazarus heart, Hoshi."

And he smiled at her, her beautiful face framed by the darkness of the Bat'tar night, the three moons and all the stars in the universe fading into oblivion behind her. She was his universe. He knew he would spend the rest of his life star-gazing.

_________

Author's Note: I heard this beautiful song the other day, one I hadn't heard in years, and immediately thought of Malcolm and Hoshi. The song is called "Lazarus Heart", and it's by Randy Stonehill.

Clinging to this telescope
Scanning the horizon
Stranded in my little boat
On the sea of dreams
Running out of time and hope
Searching for an island
Finding every cruel mirage
Is never what is seems
 
Then I sailed to the end of the world
And I saw your face
Your wonderful face
And that's when you
Called to my Lazarus heart
You rescued my Lazarus heart
Called to this Lazarus heart
Rise again
Rise again

Drifting through this veil of mist
Blinding an relentless
Trying to understand
The secret language of my soul
Forces in me turn and twist
Raging like a tempest
Doubt and fear wash over me
Like waves that rise and roll
But then I sailed to the edge of the world
And I saw your face
Your wonderful face
 
Suddenly the bells were ringing everywhere
And Angels filled the air
Like shooting stars across the sky
Then I knew forever who you are
And tears of joy fell from my eyes
You rescued my Lazarus heart
You called to my Lazarus heart
You rescued my Lazarus heart
Called to my Lazarus heart