Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, yeah, etc. All in fun, no profit.

The first paragraph is from a challenge by Lt Black Fire. The rest is my own.


It was a quiet night shift on the bridge of the Enterprise, until, to everybody's surprise, the lift opened, and Lieutenant Malcolm Reed emerged, wearing nothing but his underwear. His normally tidy hair was a spiky mess, and, clearly oblivious of what was going on around him, he walked straight to the captain's chair.

"Sir?" the crewman at the helm, Ensign Martinez, asked softly.

Malcolm stood there, facing the empty chair, staring off into space for a moment, before he spun and walked to the main viewscreen. Standing mere inches from the display, he reached out one hand and drew a finger in a slow arc across the blank screen.

Martinez looked in alarm at Ensign Chen, at tactical, before he returned his gaze to Malcolm. It was strange enough to see someone from day shift on the bridge this late at night, never mind in Reed's obvious state of…whatever. "Lieutenant?" Martinez said, this time more loudly. When Reed didn't respond, Martinez glanced at Chen again.

"Phlox," Chen mouthed silently.

Martinez nodded, and commed the doctor just as Malcolm turned away from the viewscreen and walked towards the lift. Martinez noticed that the lieutenant's eyes were a bit glazed, unfocused, although his gate was steady as he moved, his hand firm as he triggered the door.

As the door closed behind Reed, Martinez returned his gaze to Chen, who was still looking at the viewscreen. "Okay…" he said, then whistled under his breath.

"Martinez," Chen said, her eyes still on the screen. She nodded towards it. "Look at that."

Martinez looked where Chen indicated. "Jesus, what is that?" he said, surprised.

Where Malcolm had touched, the viewscreen had warped slightly, the arc he'd traced now a permanent part of its surface.


Something, a noise maybe, tugged Trip from his dreams, and he turned over in bed, barely awake. He pulled the covers up over his head, just snuggling under them again as his door chime rang the second time.

"Mmrph," he muttered, squinting his eyes open as he lay still for a moment, trying to get his bearings. "Right. Hold on," he called as he pushed the covers down, then rolled out of bed and stumbled to the door clad only in his pyjama bottoms and socks, his hair standing on end. Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he triggered the door with the other and strained to see against the bright light. "Malcolm?"

Trip blinked rapidly, taking in his friend's state of undress, and was suddenly awake. "Jesus, get in here," he said, grabbing Malcolm's arm and pulling him inside, releasing his friend so that he could glance down the empty corridor, then trigger the door shut.

Trip turned to Malcolm, slightly alarmed. "What's wro…" He stopped suddenly, speechless.

Malcolm was standing inches from Trip's window, his finger tracing a gentle arc across its surface. It its path, Trip watched the window etch, the curve now clearly visible where Malcolm had touched.


"Lieutenant Reed?" Phlox asked, standing next to Malcolm, who was still staring out Trip's window. While waiting for the doctor, Trip had draped a duvet over Malcolm's shoulders, although his friend hadn't seemed to notice, his full attention on the window before him, the arc he was still occasionally tracing.

"Lieutenant, can you respond?" Phlox asked, glancing beyond his patient to Trip, concern evident on his face. "How long has he been like this?"

Trip shrugged, nervously wrapping his arms across his chest, pulling the sweatshirt he'd tugged on closer. "I don't know. He just showed up here a few minutes ago, been like this the whole time."

Phlox nodded. "I received a call from the bridge ten minutes ago. Apparently, he'd gone there first." Phlox indicated the arc Malcolm was drawing. "He drew an arc there as well."

Trip winced. "Seems like it might mean something, then."

The doctor nodded. "Perhaps." He began scanning Malcolm. "That can't be," he muttered, his eyes widening as he read the data, then began scanning again.

"What, doc?"

"Um, his temperature." Phlox replied, distracted. He turned and pulled a second scanner from his pack and began using that one. His brow furrowed as the readings came up on the device, and he shook his head.

"What, doc?" Trip repeated, emphatically.

Phlox looked at Trip, obviously surprised at what he'd seen on the device. "His temperature is 0 degrees.

Trip froze. "That's not possible," he said quietly. He glanced at Malcolm. "I mean, he'd be dead."

Phlox nodded. "I know."

Trip stood there, watching Malcolm continue to trace the arc into the window. The blanket fell from his shoulders, but he didn't notice, simply continuing to draw the pattern.

Trip whispered, "I'll call the captain."

"And Hoshi as well," Phlox added.


Phlox nodded. "She may be able to help us understand the meaning of the arc."


Hoshi glanced nervously towards Malcolm, who was sitting on a nearby biobed, a sickbay gown draped across his shoulders. He had been unresponsive so far, and even now was simply staring down at his finger, calmly tracing an arc. As his finger would pass, the curve would melt deeper into the bed.

She glanced at the others who'd pulled chairs up next to Malcolm's bed. "I'm not certain what the symbolism of the arc might be."

"It's a spell of forgiveness," Malcolm whispered, not looking up, his focus remaining on his drawing.

Trip glanced at Malcolm, surprised that his friend had spoken. He leaned forward in his chair, and Phlox stood and began scanning his patient.

"Malcolm?" Trip asked cautiously. When Malcolm didn't reply, Trip glanced to Hoshi, then the Captain, seeing his surprise and concern mirrored in their eyes. He looked back to the lieutenant. "Forgiveness for what?" he asked warily.

Malcolm didn't respond.

Phlox turned from his patient. "His temperature continues to be abnormally low, but otherwise, our scanners are still not picking up anything wrong."

"Everything is wrong," Malcolm murmured softly. He stopped tracing the pattern, clenching his fist.

Trip rose and stood in front of Malcolm, then reached out and touched Malcolm's shoulder, again surprised by how very cold his friend was.

Malcolm's head flashed up. "We need your help." He took the hand that had been tracing the arc and grabbed Trip's arm.

Trip froze, unable to move, his gaze locked with Malcolm's. Then his eyes rolled back and he started to shake violently.

Hoshi gasped and the captain stood. Sooner than he could move forward, Phlox stepped towards Malcolm, a hypo in hand.

Before Phlox could reach him, Malcolm released Trip and looked down, calmly tracing the arc again.

Trip slumped to the floor.