Note: Based on a challenge from Lt. Black Fire, simply asking that Malcolm falls into a hole, literally or metaphorically. I took it literally.

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


Malcolm jumped up, trying to grasp the crumbling lip of the long, thin hole, coming nowhere close. His fingers brushed the wall, which crumbled away, releasing a scent of moist, damp earth. Almost Spring, he thought to himself as he stood staring at the sky above him. Then he snickered. Must have hit my head a bit harder than I thought when I fell.

He brushed a hand along the side of the hole, dirt coming away on his fingers despite the web-like tracery of roots along its sides. Quite like a well, he thought, wiping his fingers on his uniform trousers, gratified that the hole at least seemed structurally sound. "That's all I'd need," he said. "For this whole…well…hole to come crumbling down around me while I wait for rescue." He laughed out loud, then winced, pressing a hand against the side of his head, then away.

He looked down at his palm, visible in the light from the opening above him. Blood…bloody brilliant, he thought. Then he laughed again, and leant back against the wall of the well, tracing a pattern on his bloody palm with the fingers of his left hand. He watched the pattern form, blinking languidly. He was suddenly so tired. It would be nice to sit, he thought, shifting his back where it rested against the rough wall. But there wasn't space.

"Space," he said aloud, then he snickered, his eyes going to the sky. "A long time ago, in galaxy far, far away…" He started humming the theme song to "Star Wars", the film that had been on offer at the last movie night. He'd kind of liked that one, he thought, smiling slightly. Although why they can't show more recent films…

He heard shuffling from above him, then soft voices. "Ah, arrives, perhaps, my knight in shining armour?" he said aloud. He laughed again.

He heard a voice call out, "Malcolm?"

Trip, he thought, staring at the wall in front of him. He started picking at one of the roots, gently pulling it way from the dirt around it.

Then a second voice, joining that one, "He should be right here."

Travis, he thought. The root was leaving a shallow tracing of itself where it had been in the dirt. It was quite pretty, actually. He kept pulling, careful not to break the root.

"I mean, we should be right on top of him," that same voice continued.

"Malcolm?" came the first voice again.

"Hmm," Malcolm replied, his attention still on the root in his hand. He started twisting it around his fingers, creating a web of fingers and root. "Cat's Cradle," he said aloud. His vision blurred. He blinked hard, trying to clear it.

He heard dirt falling around him, then a voice directly above his head. "Malcolm?"

He craned his neck, smiling at Trip's concerned face. Trip was obviously lying on the ground next to the hole, his head over its lip. "Careful," Malcolm said, waving his root-laced fingers at Trip. "The edge is crumbly." He smiled.

Trip frowned, his brow creasing. "Are you all right?" he asked.

Malcolm shrugged, and turned his eyes back to his hand, pulling the root off his fingers. He could hear voices above him. Trip and Travis, he reminded himself. Here to rescue me, he thought, letting the root fall to the dirt at his feet.

"Malcolm?" he heard, and turned his face to the sky. He blinked hard, trying to clear his vision. Trip was there again…or still.

Malcolm smiled and waved up to him. "Yes?" he asked.

"We're going to try to get you out of there," Trip said.

"That'd be lovely," Malcolm replied.

"I'll lower a rope," Trip said. "Do you think you can grab it?"

Malcolm shrugged. "I suppose so." As Trip's face disappeared from the lip of the hole, Malcolm turned his eyes back to the wall in front of him. He started pulling at another root. Princess Leia's hair was sort of like a rope, he thought. He started swirling the root in his fingers, shaping it into two small buns. Overly complicated style, though. Not very practical. He laughed. Lucky she was a princess. She'd need a staff for her hair alone.

Something snaked down the wall in front of him, and he jumped slightly. Oh, right, he thought. The rope. He reached out for it, the root falling from his grasp, and gave it a slight tug.

Trip's voice came from above him. "Hold up, Malcolm," Trip said. "Let me get ready first."

Malcolm turned his face to the sky. After a moment, Trip's face came into view. "Do you want me to climb this?" Malcolm asked.

"Can you?" Trip replied. "We could pull you out instead."

Malcolm stared at the rope for a moment. His head was starting to pound, and the rope swam in his vision. "That sounds better," he admitted. He grabbed the rope and tried to fasten it around himself. After several clumsy attempts, he started laughing.

"You okay down there?" asked Trip from above him.

"I'm sorry, Commander," Malcolm replied, dropping the rope. "I cannot tie a knot." He snickered. "I can not knot," he repeated softly, pushing at the hanging rope, making it swing slightly.

"Hold on," Trip said, and the rope started to snake up the side of the well.

Malcolm watched it rise, then stared up at the blue sky above him. It was strange how, no matter which planet they were on, the sky was invariably blue, he thought. There were certainly some variations – cerulean, indigo, azure, sapphire…

Trip's head appeared again, blocking most of the sky. "We've tied a harness," he said, lowering the rope again. "See if you can't slide this around yourself, and we'll pull you up."

Malcolm nodded, grasping the rope as it reached him and pulling it around himself. When he was ready, he smiled up at Trip. "Onwards and upwards, Commander."

Trip nodded, then disappeared from view.

Malcolm felt the rope become taught, then a strong pull. He began to feel himself rise, the rope tugging uncomfortably where it wrapped around his body. He closed his eyes, then felt strong arms pulling him over the edge of the hole. He lay there for a moment, his eyes closed, and enjoyed the feel of the sun on his face, the buzz of voices around him as he rested.

He thought he heard a voice calling his name, but he couldn't be bothered answering. It was so nice here in the sun, he thought. And warm. Much nicer than down in that hole. And he was so tired. A nap might be nice. Maybe he'd dream of Princess Leia.

He felt pressure on his head, then felt a bandage being applied, and he groaned. He'd never get any sleep with all these people bothering him. He sighed.

"Malcolm?" Trip asked.

"Yeah?" Malcolm answered, his eyes fluttering open.

"Do you think you can walk?"

Malcolm smiled. "The ground went out beneath my feet."

Trip nodded. "Can you sit up?"

"Why?" Malcolm asked, puzzled. He was completely comfortable where he was. A little nausea, maybe, and a slight headache; nothing that sleep wouldn't cure. He let his eyes drift closed.

He heard Trip stand, then voices as he and Travis discussed something, Trip's slightly higher voice a nice counterpoint to Travis' deeper tones. After a moment, he felt someone beside him again.

"Malcolm," Trip said, and Malcolm opened his eyes slightly. "We're going to have to help you up. We need to walk to the shuttle, get you home." Trip smiled slightly. "It's not far."

Before he could reply, Malcolm felt their arms around him, guiding him to standing, Trip to one side, Travis on the other. He stumbled, but they held him up. God, his head hurt, he thought, and he let his head hang forward, closing his eyes, shuffling between them as they walked. He didn't feel well. He stumbled again. He didn't feel…his eyes opened in alarm. Sliding out of their arms, he fell to his knees and vomited.

After a moment, he realised that Trip was kneeling beside him, saying something. He tried to focus, then heaved again. "No," he muttered, his eyes closing.

He heard Travis' voice from beside him. "You'll be okay, sir. We think you have a concussion."

Malcolm tried to nod, but winced against the pain in his head. It was getting worse. Wasn't it supposed to get better over time, rather than worse?

He felt himself being pulled to standing, then they were moving forward again. He hated being sick, he thought. And sickbay, he'd probably end up in sickbay again. Poked and prodded. Phlox would probably put some sort of odd eel on his head or some such. He snickered. That man was mad.

They stopped moving, and Malcolm opened his eyes. The shuttle, he thought. We're at the shuttle. He watched as Travis reached one arm forward to trigger the door open, and then they were moving again, and he closed his eyes.

He felt himself being settled on a hard surface. Probably the floor, he thought, then he drifted, half-awake, as the ship came to life around him. He heard Travis and Trip's voices, then felt the shuttle move. Probably handles differently from the Millennium Falcon, he thought. That was a much larger ship.

Trip's voice came from beside him, and he felt a hypo against his neck, hearing its hiss. "…better soon, Phlox will…" he caught, drifting in and out, trying to focus on Trip's words. It was hard, though, with so much else going on, he thought. The shuttle was not as nimble as that desert flitter that Luke used, was that what it was called? Now that was a lovely little vehicle. Not very attractive, but it could certainly move. And that Death Star. Now that was a weapon…

Malcolm slept, dreaming of princesses and adventures; of nimble ships, and really big guns.