Beta: Kathy Rose
Warning: Mild slash
A/N: Written for elliepierson as part of the Enterprise Ficathon. She requested the following: Tucker/Reed Romantic and smutty. No angst please...Please make Malcolm the strong, well adjusted, horny guy we see on the show. No whimpy Malcolm.
She got most of that.
Disclaimer: I don't own it, I make no money, yadda, yadda, yadda.
As Trip stepped off the arrivals platform into the brightness of the Malaysian morning, the first thing that hit him was the almost overwhelming heat and humidity, more even than what he was used to from Florida. Next came the scents - something floral, and rotting fruit, and mustiness, and...was that curry?
He must have said that last aloud, because Malcolm nodded and asked, "Hungry?"
Trip paused for a moment, letting the other travellers flow around them. "I suppose that I am," he answered, raising his voice over the buzzing of birds, insects, and people's conversations. "When's the next flight?"
"Later," Malcolm said, offhand. He checked his watch. "We've time enough to grab a bite," he said, nodding towards a nearby building. He started walking away, following the stream of passengers moving towards a doorway with "Arrivals" marked over it.
Trip walked behind him, nose twitching at the alien mix of smoke and spice and exhaust and sweet mouldy something. He'd been bugging Malcolm for forever - well, technically, for four years - to bring him to Malaysia on one of their home leaves and prove that this mysterious Reed family actually existed. And now, finally, Malcolm had agreed, and they were headed to Kota Bharu where Malcolm's parents lived and where Malcolm had apparently spent some time while growing up.
So, this is Malaysia, he thought, glancing around. Just off the tarmac and surrounding the arrivals building, he could see broad-leafed tropical grasses, as well as trees heavy with green leaves and yellow flowers.
Trip followed Malcolm into the long, low building. As the door swished shut behind him, cutting off the humid air, he rejoiced in the sudden, blessed coolness. A person brushed past him, and Trip peered over the heads of the crowd, trying to see if there was a food court. All he could see was Malcolm's dark head as he threaded his way through people. He seemed to know where he was going. Trip followed quickly so as not to lose him in the crowd.
And the place certainly was crowded, with people in constant movement as they walked to and from the gate areas. Trip had to admit, so far, Malaysia wasn't quite what he had expected. Sure, he'd expected crowds, but he'd figured that the people here would all be the same. But they weren't - there were Indians, Chinese, possibly Brits or Americans - people from all sorts of backgrounds, wearing everything from saris to headscarves to clothing that was quite western.
Before Trip realised where they were headed, Malcolm had stopped in front of a row of food stalls. Only one of them was open, despite the fact that it was noon, local time. That one was packed with people eating, sitting at every table but one. Malcolm waved him toward it.
"I'd eaten here the last time I was in town," Malcolm said, settling into one of the two seats at the small table. "The food was good, although the ambiance leaves a bit to be desired." As Trip sat down, his chair wobbled and Malcolm smiled apologetically. "It's Ramadan, so during the day our options are kind of limited. I figured Indian - is that all right?"
Trip shrugged. "Sure," he said - although seeing what was on the table behind Malcolm, suddenly he wasn't so sure.
Their waiter appeared and greeted them with, "Selamat datang," which Trip remembered meant "Welcome" in Malay. At least, he thought it did.
Malcolm nodded to the server and said, "Halo. What's good?"
The waiter smiled and nodded his head towards the table beside them, then the one beyond that.
Malcolm pointed - and this was odd, not with his finger, but with hand with fingers closed - at the table beside them. "We'll have what they're having."
The waiter nodded and waved to someone across the small room, and before Trip could even ask Malcolm what they were about to eat, another server arrived with the food. Their waiter placed a flat, square green leaf directly on the table. Then, from the battered pots cradled in his arm, the second man scooped out one thing, then another, then rice, and then some sort of sauce, each time muttering something in the local language, each time Malcolm nodding or shaking his head. The waiter finally placed what looked like tea in clear glasses beside their leaves.
Malcolm responded with a soft, "Terima kasih."
Trip stared down at the food before him, perplexed. Finally he looked up. "What's all this, then?"
Malcolm smiled, his eyes lighting up with genuine pleasure. With his hand, fingers closed, he indicated the bread and said, "Roti canai, a sort of Indian bread." He moved his hand. "Rice, of course," he said with a snarky smile. "And vegetables."
Malcolm took his hand and slid some of the rice into the saucy vegetables and moved it to his mouth.
Trip hesitated. No utensils. Right. He looked around and found that everyone in the restaurant was eating that way.
His hand hovered over the food.
Malcolm noticed after a moment and looked up with raised eyebrow. "Right hand, Trip."
"You use your right hand to eat, or shake hands, or exchange money." Malcolm raised his left hand. "Your left you use for...other things," he said with a wry smile.
Trip switched hands, said a soft prayer, and tucked in. He certainly didn't have quite as much grace with the process as Malcolm or the people around them, but he was always up for something different. And the food was good, although he found the tea shockingly sweet.
After a few moments of silent eating, Trip paused and simply watched Malcolm for a moment. What he'd been thinking earlier - the concept of grace was the right one. The man moved with surety and grace in everything he did, even making something that should be so messy, like eating with his hands, seem elegant. And he did have nice hands. Trip always noticed that on people - their hands. It had been one of the first things he'd noticed about Malcolm.
Malcolm looked up, his expression questioning, so Trip tried to start a conversation to cover for fact that he'd been staring. "So, Ramadan?"
Malcolm nodded around his mouthful. "Yes, tomorrow's actually Hari Raja, which celebrates the end of Ramadan. Since Kota Bharu is the most Muslim region of all Malaysia, it should be a good time to arrive." He wiped his hands on a napkin from the pile between them, and smiled. "There are usually parties for days." He leaned towards Trip. "Although I should tell you, the area up around my parents' house isn't as developed as down here in Kuala Lumpur. Still, there are restaurants, which should be open as of tomorrow, or maybe the day after. We should be able to get more than just Indian and Chinese food."
Trip smiled. "Utensils?" he asked, raising a hand flecked with rice.
Malcolm smiled. "Fork and spoon at least." He leaned forward, semi-conspiratorially. "They save the knives for the tourists."
Trip winced and glanced at his hand. "I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a tourist."
Malcolm gentled his smile, his eyes kind. "You're doing fine, Trip."
Trip smiled back gratefully and took another sloppy bite. "I'd thought that you'd only spent 'some' time here growing up."
"You seem to know the culture pretty well." Trip saw a blush creep up Malcolm's cheeks, so he added, "So when you said you spent some time here..."
Malcolm smiled. "I meant most of my pre-teen years."
"Of course you did."
Trip took another bite, only to see Malcolm staring at him appraisingly. Trip couldn't help but add, "Don't forget your food."
Malcolm blinked, then smiled and started eating again.
When he was finally done, Malcolm closed the leafy mat toward him.
"What are you doing?" Trip asked.
"When you're done, it's customary to close it toward you - at least if you liked the food."
"And if I didn't?" Trip replied archly.
Malcolm glanced down at Trip's now-empty mat, raised an eyebrow, then gave him a small, patently facetious bow.
"You'd close it way from you."
Trip grinned and carefully closed the leaf toward him.
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