I don't own Star Trek Enterprise or any of its characters--however, Aisling is my own.

--Malcolm adjusts to his new situation and his friends notice the difference in him.--


Malcolm opened his eyes and languidly stretched his body. A few silent moments of typical morning confusion followed his movements. He yawned, blinked away his sleepiness, and sighed as he reached across his bed for Aisling. Malcolm tensed instinctively and almost shot from the bed with his heart beating faster. But they he remember her words before they'd both drifted off to sleep and he relaxed again, this time with a peaceful smile on his lips. She'd said they could communicate during the day through his senses and bodily and emotional impressions, though not through actual words of course. He didn't know yet what all that meant, but it did comfort him enough to keep smiling as he stood and made his way to the shower.

Still about an hour before he had to be on duty, Malcolm took his time undressing before stepping into the warm spray of water. He'd been slowly washing his hair when he swore he caught scent of lavender. When he'd been washing his body he thought he felt someone else's skin brush against his back. At first it was eerie and he was uncomfortable, but as time drew on and he experienced ghost fingers comb through his hair and invisible lips brush his cheek, he relaxed and smiled once more. This would definitely take some getting used to, but so far so good.

Before he left his quarters he felt a sudden surge of contentment mixed with a warmth of love that he knew was not his own. It was odd, feeling emotions that he knew weren't his, but it felt okay. It was at first awkward but now it wasn't even intrusive. In fact, it felt bloody good.

Malcolm went about his morning duties as usual, though his staff couldn't help but notice a slight difference in him. Yes, he was still anal retentive, obsessive, and withdrawn from other's personal lives, he seemed more at ease within his own skin, more tranquil.

Trip noticed this new calm aura about his friend as well. He smiled more readily, though still far from often, and he didn't seem to fly off the handle or bluster with arrogant pride as much either, though he still had a good dose of both as well. He mentioned this to Hoshi and Mayweather and they confirmed his observations with a few of their own. He decided to confront Malcolm about that when they grappled that evening in the gym.

"So Malcolm, any particular reason why you're so calm today?"

Malcolm raised an eyebrow as he stretched his arms before going into a ready position, "What do you mean?"

"Well," Trip rolled his neck as he too readied himself, "You just seem more at ease today. The past few weeks you've been on edge and now suddenly you're not. I just was wonderin if there was a particular reason for that."

Malcolm smiled as he circled Trip. He didn't answer Trip until after he'd pinned him and had been pinned in turn. "I got a good night's rest last night and its been a long time since that."

"That's it?" Trip didn't look convinced as he continued to circle Malcolm. "I mean it'd make sense if you'd been needin some female attention and hadn't been getting any," Malcolm frowned as Trip cheekily grinned, "Or if a ensign was drivin you nuts and the cap'n finally transferred him to another area of the ship," Malcolm rolled his eyes, "But just a good night's rest? Gosh, Malcolm, that's pretty lame."

Malcolm chuckled as he swooped in and wrestled Trip to the ground then pinned him. He held him there for a moment before smiling in triumph and standing, helping Trip to his feet in turn. "Obviously not lame enough to keep me from besting you two out of three."

Trip shook his head as he readied himself again, "We're not through yet, Malcolm, so you better wipe that arrogant prick smile off your face and get ready for some real grapplin."

By the time Malcolm returned to his quarters he and Trip had grappled at least twenty some odd times and Malcolm had counted thirteen wins on his part. It always felt best to win—at least that's what he'd been taught as any good Reed man would be. He sighed in pleasure as he closed his eyes beneath his second shower of the day. He wasn't surprised this time when he felt another presence with him touching him, letting him smell her scent. It was so relaxing that he nearly fell asleep in the shower. He had to force himself out of the shower and into his briefs before falling into bed. His eyes were heavy-lidded and it wasn't long before he finally drifted off to sleep.

...

Malcolm walked along the rocky shore of Dover, the cool sea breeze tussling his hair. He felt the warmth of the sun on his back as he moved along the shore, looking for something, someone. He heard the cries of the gulls above him in the sky, and the crashing of the waves as they came in then pulled back out. He tasted the saltiness of the sea on his lips. He smiled when his eyes fell on a lone figure sitting on a large white boulder looking down at the sea below. He took his time as he climbed up the side then walked towards the edge where the figure was perched in a black sweater and tan trousers.

"There you are." Aisling smiled as she turned her head towards him, the wind tugging her hair about her face.

Malcolm nodded as he sat beside her and put his arm around her shoulders, "Yes," he placed a soft kiss on her brow as she leaned against him, "Here I am."


Fin. Hope you enjoyed this! Let me know what you think!