Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything except my original character.
Summary: Malcolm is brought to a dream world Enterprise and encounters an intriguing alien female who gives him a proposition that could very well change his life.
It was happening again.
With a heavy groan, Lt. Malcolm Reed rolled over and set his feet on the floor of his quarters. He blinked the world into focus and glanced around at his familiar surroundings. He didn't even bother looking at the time; he knew that it didn't work here. It would register the last time he had seen before he'd fallen "asleep" and wouldn't change until he "woke" up again.
Malcolm rubbed his hands over his face, much like he would do if he were awake. It was happening more and more often these days. At first he thought that maybe it was stress that induced these odd and freakishly real dreams. That wouldn't be too surprising given the ship's current status of being very far from anything they knew and recognized, however with the frequency of these dreams and lack of reprieve, there had to be something more to them. Afterall, he wasn't the weapons officer for lack of caution and paranoia.
Malcolm ran his fingers through his already tussled hair and sighed. Even the mild sedative that Phlox gave him from time to time didn't seem to work. He might fall asleep completely drunk on the stuff but once he was asleep and he "woke" up here the sedative no longer worked and he was stuck. Training in his free time didn't make him too tired to dream either, and he wasn't about to join Trip with T'Pol in her neuropressure sessions—though it was only a rumor and not something one brought up in polite conversation.
The name alone, "neuropressure," sounded slightly disturbing and too intimate for his comfort. He was a very private man and wasn't one for close physical contact unless he was making a "rendevous" with a wench at port of call or training with a fellow crewmate. So when Trip had started to suggest something Malcolm had immediately shaken his head and walked off. The two senior officers provided enough gossip by themselves, but the three of them would probably throw the entire crew into a tizzy. No, he would rather deal with his dreams alone without having his unit look at him oddly, well, any more oddly than they already did. He already heard snide comments seemingly behind his back about him being a stiff arsed Brit. He didn't find the comments worth any recognition. Besides he was a stiff arsed Brit, he had had to become one in order to get where he was today.
Malcolm stood up and went into the bathroom to wash his face. With the water still running and droplets dripping down his face, Malcolm stared at his relfection. Everything was the same in this dream version of Enterprise. He ate, he drank, he got "tired", he got hurt, etc. The only difference: he was the only one on Enterprise, and it seemed the only one in space. No matter what, he never met anyone inside or outside the ship. He couldn't leave himself or others messages because once he woke up in the real Enterprise it was gone, vanished just like the dream. He had tried navigating to nearby worlds in hopes that he'd find people there but it was no use because every time he came to one he found absolutely no life signs other than vegetation, and even that was scarce.
Phlox said that it was probably just him worrying too much about work, and with him being a perfectionist he did tend to worry almost incessantly. Phlox of course recommended a few days of bed rest. Malcolm had nearly laughed at the good doctor, as if HE would ever ask for a day off! Phlox of course had suspected as much and merely told him to come to sickbay for my hypospray treatments whenever he was desperate.
Trip of course said that is was just his way of escaping from all the people that bugged him, and of course that was a lot of people. Some days he just couldn't stand the inefficiency of most of the crew, and some days even Archer's familiarity with the crew, including himself, nearly drove him over the edge. Trip had suggested a good sparring match with anyone who happened to push him over the edge. Sparring had helped ease the tension, as did watching his opponent writhe on the ground cursing and moaning, but it hadn't stopped the dreams. Mayweather just told him he was weird, and so far Malcolm was beginning to agree with him. In fact, Malcolm agreed with all them in a way, and yet it still felt like it was something more.
It wasn't like he closed his eyes and went to sleep and then "woke" inside his dream. It was more like he laid on his bed and the next moment he'd still be lying there but everything would feel slightly different and he would just know that he was "dreaming." Time passed just as slowly in these dreams as it did during the day. He got hungry, he got tired, and when he would go to "sleep" in his dream, he'd wake up on Enterprise again, though the time of day would vary according to how long he stayed "awake" in his dream. He didn't usually feel tired when he "woke" again, even if he was "up" the entire night. It just depended on what he did during his dream, just like it would depend on what he did during the day to determine how tired he'd be that night.
Seeing that standing there staring at his unchanging reflection and pondering the odd complexity of his current situation was utterly useless, Malcolm moved to his closet. He often changed into his workout clothing, and sometimes even civilian clothing, though the latter was more rare, seeing as there was no one on board to worry about being out of uniform for. Opting for black civilian slacks and grey t-shirt on this occasion, Malcolm left his quarters and moved towards the mess hall.
Sometimes, when he was feeling particularly daring and out of character, he'd do something that he normally wouldn't do on the Enterprise. Of course most people would say that entailed a lot, and again most people wouldn't believe the things he had done while here. Knowing, now at least, that what he did in this dream had no repercussion on his reality, he could do whatever he wanted. When he had first realized this, Malcolm had nearly gone giddy with laughter—though a Reed never went giddy over anything.
He had piloted the ship to a few uninhabited planets, of course they were uninhabited, and had had himself a nice long "vacation" of sorts on the tropical planets rock climbing and caving, rafting and swimming. He had blown up meteors with torpedoes and target practiced with the phase cannons, which was something he particularly enjoyed and did as often as possible. He had cooked a couple of meals, not having to live in fear of Cook, and had finally been able to eat fish and chips the way he liked, with vinegar of course!
Once, and only once, he'd blasted some old British pop over the com and had danced through the armory, polishing all his equipment. However, he hadn't done that in a while, since he still felt like he was being watched. He hadn't quite worked up to going around nude, though that would've been one of the first on Trip's list he was sure, and he honestly didn't think he'd do that anyway. It was too…primitive and childish, and he was sure the moment he did that something would backfire and he'd end up in reality in the middle of the bridge—that was his luck afterall.
He whistled, "God Save the Queen," as he entered mess hall and opened the dessert cabinet. Another good thing about these dreams, he could eat all he wanted and not have to worry about a thing. Not that he was given to worrying about such frivolities, but he did tend to eat more sweets in these dreams and in the long run that wouldn't be a good thing. Phlox would probably have his hide for eating so many sweets, but Malcolm just didn't care. Fishing out a berry cobbler, Malcolm grabbed a fork and turned to sit down.
His cobbler and fork fell to the floor, completely forgotten. His expression was one of extreme shock, his eyes wide and his mouth gaping open. He was struck mute in surprise, and confusion. It seemed the his highly trained nerves had given out on him at last and he was only glad no one he knew was around to witness him being struck dumb by a mere slip of a woman.
Malcolm shut his mouth and looked the woman over. All this time he had been alone. He'd tried many times to find others. But now, standing before him, was a woman he'd never seen before. She wasn't dressed in regulation uniform, and she didn't even seem to be human, though she was humanoid.
Peppering the sides of her ivory colored long neck were faint purple dots, first indication that she wasn't a human. Her ears were slightly pointed like T'Pol or her Vulcan comrades except the points were on the bottom instead of the top. Her eyes were just a bit larger and more almond shaped than those of the average human. Her arms and legs seemed to be a little longer as well, though she wasn't too lanky in any sense. Her hair was an unnatural violet color that seemed to offset her deep purple eyes that at the moment held a mixture of anxiety and hope. From his initial assessment she appeared unarmed, but one could never be too careful.
Malcolm was surprised that he hadn't heard her or noticed her presence, especially with her standing a mere foot away from his face. She was close enough to touch, and definitely close enough to smell. She smelled of lavender and chamomile, and without realizing it his muscles began to release their tension merely from the comforting smell. However, before he relaxed completely, Malcolm took a slight step back and shook his head. He frowned at her as he raised a pointed finger in her direction.
"How did you get here?" Of course, that shouldn't exactly be his first question, but given the fact that for the past month he'd been completely alone in his dreams, her presence was odd.
She smiled sweetly, "If this were a mere dream Malcolm Reed, why would you care?" Her voice was melodically husky.
Malcolm frowned more and stepped forward a bit until her nose was only a few inches away from his own. He could feel her warmth, even through his clothing and her own. She seemed to be glowing with warmth. Her eyes were radiant and held a vibrant quality that Malcolm could only guess was her zest for life. He reached out towards her, though he was mentally shaking his head at his own movements.
His dream had just gone from a normal weird to a random weird very quickly. First he'd only been isolated from all his crewmates on his own ship. Now he was isolated from his crewmates on the ship, with an odd alien female of a race he'd never met. Not to mention, a beautiful alien female that smelled divine and had a voice of honey. Not a good combination for him, not at all—he could feel his natural Reed charm start to rear its arrogant head screaming at him to do something about the initial attraction he felt towards her. Malcolm managed to swallow the sudden lump in his throat and growl out his words.
"You know my name." Malcolm poked her shoulder a few times. "You feel real." Malcolm flattened the palm of his hand on her shoulder, moving his fingers back and forth on her soft flesh. "And you're the only one in my dream..." His voice trailed off for a few moments, his head tilted in thought.
Then Malcolm suddenly seized her by the other shoulder and drew her closer, "You have something to do with this don't you? Are you causing me to have these dreams?" His fingers dug deeper into her skin and he thought he caught a wince in her beautiful face but it was quickly masked, "Are your people doing something to my ship? Are the captain and crew alright?" His voice dipped low and a menacing snarl mangled his beautiful face and his grip somehow grew tighter, this time an obvious wince crossing her features, "If you try to harm anyone or the ship, I swear I'll make your death a blessing compared to the pain I'll put you through."
The woman was silent for a moment, her eyes narrowing slightly in thought, before her face softened once more and she smiled again, this time a bit more sadly than before. At that exact moment, Malcolm knew that she was very smart and would definitely be someone to be wary of.
"I should've realized you would react this way. Maybe I should have prepared you better by gradually introducing my presence, but there is nothing to be done now that I'm here. And I am here Malcolm, just as here as you are." She reached up with one of her long arms and tapped a long finger on his forearm, "If you would be so kind as to let go I'd gladly explain to you what's going on, answering whatever questions you have." She folded her hands in front of her and tilted her head to the side, "I give you my word as a stranger to you that I will not do anything rash and stupid."
Malcolm held on for a moment longer, going over his risks for letting her go. She could be the only answer to his bizarre dreams like she said, but she could also be a liar and a threat. He didn't know if he could trust her, or even if he should. He knew that as of this moment nothing that had happened in his dreams had happened in reality. Nothing had endangered the ship or the crew, and he was still in good health as well. Her presence here may or may not have an effect on all that.
He supposed the only way to find out would be to let go. If he let go he could put some distance between them as well. Holding her like this, her warmth so close to him, her smell wrapping around his senses and relaxing his nerves, was too much of a temptation to simply not care about the answers.
Whatever the outcome, Malcolm sighed and let go...
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