Warnings: Swearing, graphically portrayed drug use.
Thanks: To Lt. Black Fire, who inspired me to write this piece with her addiction/Malcolm idea. Also to Seether for their song, "Fine Again". And to the talented SueC, my beta.
Note: This story takes place during the Xindi missions.
Disclaimer: I don't own it, I make no money, yadda, yadda, yadda.
His hand was shaking.
Malcolm closed his fist, glancing around the ready room table to see if anyone had noticed. Luckily, Trip and T'Pol were still engaged in their animated discussion, oblivious to anything but the topic at hand.
He took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. He was all right. He could get through this.
Malcolm moved his fingers along the smooth surface of the tabletop. He was fidgeting, and he knew it, but he couldn't stop; he was restless. He tried to concentrate on the exchange between Trip and T'Pol, but it was impossible; he just couldn't focus. He let his eyes wander to the window of the ready room as they continued their discussion over...actually, he'd entirely lost track of what they were talking about. Something about the information he'd obtained, and the Xindi weapon.
That's right, he thought. They were discussing the information he'd been able to get whilst undercover these last few weeks on Denox. Maybe that information would help, and what he'd done to get it would end up being worthwhile. A small sacrifice, perhaps, if they could save Earth.
He saw Denox move into view through the window. I offered myself as a sacrifice, he thought, watching the planet grow larger. I believe that the gods accepted.
He watched the clouds swirling across the globe's surface, the blue of the oceans breaking through the overcast; the planet, jewel-like, suspended against the stars. The stars are not wanted now, he thought, remembering a poem he'd learnt in school. Put out every one. Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Malcolm saw something cross his vision and he jumped, blinking rapidly. He saw that Trip was waving one hand in front of his face.
Trip let his hand drop to the table. "I asked you a question."
"Sorry?" Malcolm replied, trying to concentrate. He knew that it was important that he pay attention, complete the mission. Just get through today, and then maybe tomorrow...
Trip smiled broadly. "Are you in there?"
Malcolm stared at his friend, then answered, "I don't know." His eyes moved back to the window and he pulled at his shirt collar. God, he was suddenly so hot. He wiped his palm across his forehead. Hearing a voice nearby, he turned to see Trip again.
"Maybe you should go see Phlox," Trip said, giving him a strange look.
Malcolm shook his head. "No, it's just a headache. I'm tired." He stood, pushing back his chair. "I should go." He walked away, not giving Trip a chance to respond.
Entering the armoury, Malcolm walked directly to his office, shutting the door behind him and sitting at his desk. He stared straight ahead, and then, taking a deep breath, grabbed a padd and tried to read, to get caught up.
His vision blurred as he stared at the device. He slammed it to the surface of his desk in frustration, his hand shaking as he moved. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he hunched over, letting his weight rest on his arms as pain wracked his body. "Oh, my God," he said between gasps. Then he put his head down on his arms and took several deep breaths.
He heard his door chime, and he straightened, gathering himself as best he could. After a moment, he said, "Come in."
"I figured I'd find you here," Trip said as he walked through the door. He stopped in front of the desk. "You look like hell."
Malcolm exploded with barely contained fury. "Perhaps if I didn't have so many interruptions, I..." At Trip's look of shock, Malcolm stopped himself in mid-sentence.
"Are you okay?" Trip asked, leaning both hands, palms flat, on the desk.
Malcolm consciously tried to relax. "Yes. Sorry." He pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. "I didn't get much sleep last night."
"Right," Trip said, drawing the word out. Then he leaned forward across Malcolm's desk. "If something's wrong..."
Malcolm shook his head. "I'm simply tired." He tried to smile. "It was a long mission."
"Listen, we're all under pressure..."
Malcolm interrupted. "Pressure?" he said, snapping off his response. He waved around his desk vaguely. "There isn't time to be sick, or tired."
Trip sank into a nearby seat, then leaned back in his chair, appraising his friend. "Something's wrong."
Malcolm stared at him expressionlessly.
Trip continued. "What happened down there on Denox?"
Malcolm shook his head. "You should mind your own business," he said quietly.
Trip leaned forward again, his surprise at Malcolm's response clear from his expression. "Listen. I'm here for you. You know that, right?" At Malcolm's answering nod, he said, "But everyone's real tense. Now is not a good time for you to break down." He gave Malcolm a pinched smile, and stood. He walked toward the door, triggering it open, then turned back to Malcolm, his expression compassionate. "Just try to hold it together until we get through this," he said softly. "Then we can talk. 'kay?"
Malcolm nodded. Trip gave an insincere smile as he left, and the door closed behind him.
Malcolm buried his face in his hands. Jesus, he'd never be able to get through the day like this. He needed to be able to function. He looked up. Just for today.
He reached down and opened his desk drawer, removing the false bottom. Feeling around that dark space, he pulled out a small, silver box, which he carefully placed on his desk. He opened it and removed some tubing. Yanking up his sleeve, he tied it around his bicep. He thumped his inner arm once, twice, then, leaving that arm in position, took a needle from the box and pulled the cap off with his teeth, spitting it into the nearby bin. He picked up a small vial and inserted the needle, the dark brown liquid filling it to its half-way point. Putting the vial on his desk, he tapped the needle, ejecting a bit of the substance. Then he held the needle over his arm.
He began to shake violently.
Suddenly, he pulled the needle away, throwing it to the floor. Standing, he crushed it under his boot. He ripped away the tubing and tossed it into the bin, then slammed his fist onto the desk.
He heard the sound of the comm. and his head flashed up.
"Lieutenant Reed." It was T'Pol.
"Yes," he replied, his voice shaking slightly.
"We need you in the ready room."
Malcolm straightened. "I'll be there in a moment." As the comm. clicked off, he drew a deep breath, and bent down to pick up the needle. He walked it to the recycler and threw it away. Returning to his desk, he placed his head in his hands.
He couldn't stop. He had to get control. He had to find a way to function.
After a moment, he looked up and saw the vial on his desk. He picked it up and gently placed it back inside the silver case, next to his spare needle. He closed the box, and stared at it in his hand.