By Emiliana Keladry
Author's note: This story was written in honor of "Drown Malcolm Month". Enjoy! It is set towards the end of the first season and before "Minefield" in the second season.
Disclaimer: I don't own Enterprise or any of the characters. Never will. I only love writing about them.
The snow crunched beneath the boots of the three humans enjoying their walk on the deserted, ice planet. Strange trees and oddly shaped mountains, laced with purple snow and ice, covered the entire planet. The soft snow flakes fell to the ground, tickling the noses and ears of the crew members. A gentle breeze blew the flakes around, increasing the cold temperature that was causing each of the humans to shiver slightly. One of the humans was shivering from the cold but also from the all too familiar feeling in his gut about impending trouble. Lieutenant Malcolm Reed was focused on the sight of what appeared to be frozen river in front of their path. Captain Jonathan Archer and Commander Charles Tucker III did not seem to notice it.
"This planet sure is lovely," Trip chuckled, holding some of the snow in his hands, before chucking it at his captain.
Jonathan didn't have time to duck and was hit square in the face with the snow. He quickly gathered snow into his hands and returned the favor.
"I have to agree. I am glad T'Pol convinced us we needed the shore leave. This trip has definitely been worth the cold," the Captain said, noticing that Malcolm was staring straight ahead. He hadn't expected his Armory officer to play around and throw snowballs, but his facial express was… off somehow. "Is something wrong Malcolm?"
"No sir. I was just noticing that we are about to cross a frozen river."
Jonathan heard a quiver in this voice, but assumed it was the cold weather. Trip threw a snowball at the Lieutenant's back. Not wanting to let anyone know he was afraid of the frozen river, Malcolm turned and quickly made a snowball with his chilled fingers digging into the purple snow. It hit the man in the shoulder and the fight continued. Malcolm attempted to concentrate on the game, not the fear that was filling his body.
"We better keep moving," Jonathan announced, throwing the last snowball at Trip. "Travis will be wondering what took so long if we delay again. The shuttle pod is just over that hill."
The three men picked up their bags and started walking closer to the frozen river. It appeared to be about one hundred meters across. The Lieutenant used his scanner to determine if it was completely frozen.
"It appears to be safe to cross," he told the others.
They nodded and both started to walk across the river. Malcolm couldn't bring himself to take a step forward. His thoughts dwelt on the rushing water beneath the surface. Neither Captain Archer nor Commander Tucker knew about his aquaphobia. He wanted to keep it that way. The Lieutenant took a few steps onto the ice. His chest was suddenly tight and he knew every part of his body that was exposed to the cold air went stiff. His breathing became difficult. Jonathan and Trip were already half way across the river. Malcolm tried to concentrate on the words of Stuart Reed to control his panic attack. "A Reed is afraid of nothing. Reed's are not weak." It helped calm him enough to start across the river again. Feeling the solid ice beneath his feet calmed him a bit, but his heart was still racing.
[I must not panic. They cannot know. He thought, clutching his chest and trying to take deep breaths.
Then the ice began to crack. Panic swarmed him. Malcolm became very dizzy and weak. He wanted so badly to run, but he couldn't. Water. Filling his lungs, holding his arms and legs. Trip turned around to see why Malcolm wasn't walking with them. His eyes immediately fell upon the man holding his chest and the ice breaking beneath his feet.
"Jon!" the commander yelled, as the freezing water swallowed his close friend.
Captain Archer turned in horror at the sound just in time to see Malcolm disappear into the alien river. He dropped his bag and ran alongside with Trip to the hole in the purple ice. The water was cloudy. Malcolm couldn't be seen.
"Malcolm!" Jonathan exclaimed.
Trip pulled out his scanner and started to scan for his bio-sign under the water. Precious moments passed. One minute had soon gone by. The engineer carefully walked downstream a little and froze. Malcolm was beneath him and not moving.
"Jon, he's here! He's trapped by a log of some sort."
Jonathan ran over and they uncovered that part of the ice with their bare hands. The two could see the alien log, but not the Lieutenant. Another minute had passed. Without words, Trip threw off his jacket and boots. The captain pulled a phase pistol out of his bag, set it on stun, and melted the ice. He removed the large chunk and watched as Trip prepared to jump in.
"Be careful and hurry."
"I will. Keep the hole open."
Trip took a deep breath and dived into the water. His body felt like he had jumped into a stream full of sharp needles. The cold quickly tried to eat away at his skin and clothing. His mind clouded with the pain, but he knew he couldn't stop now. Malcolm's life depended on him. Commander Tucker opened his eyes and swam down, looking for his friend. His fingers and toes were starting to freeze and not move well. It made it difficult to swim. Nothing. Trip was running out of air. Just before he was going to get another breath he saw a hand. Malcolm was trapped at the bottom of the river, held by a few branches from the log. He wasn't moving. Trip had to get him out, now! Knowing he had run out of air, the man began to take in water. Tucker reached Malcolm and broke him free of the branches. His lungs were screaming as the cold water came in. With one kick from the bottom, he started towards the surface. The Lieutenant was dead weight in his arms, preventing Trip from swimming quickly. Finally, he broke the surface. Captain Archer pulled them out of the water. Trip crawled a few steps, threw up the water in his stomach and coughed up the water in his lungs. The air felt colder than the water. No time to worry about that. He turned around for see Jonathan attempting to find Malcolm's pulse.
"He's not breathing!" Jon yelled. "Get Enterprise to transport us out of here now!"
He tossed his communicator to Trip. The commander hailed Enterprise and ordered T'Pol to transport them to Enterprise immediately and have Doctor Phlox waiting. Jonathan began to do CPR on the Lieutenant. There was no immediate response.
"Come on Malcolm," Trip muttered through his chattering teeth.
The captain performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his friend. No response again. He pressed on Malcolm's chest and finally got a response. Malcolm began to cough up the water in his lungs, gasping for air. He kept his eyes closed. Jonathan was finally getting a slow pulse that was quickening. The armory officer tried to roll over onto his stomach, choking on the water he was coughing up. At that moment, Enterprise transported them from the surface. Jonathan turned Malcolm on his side on the transporter pad so he could get all of the liquid from his lungs without choking again.
"He fell through the ice," Jon told Doctor Phlox as a medic threw a blanket around his shoulders. "He wasn't breathing when Trip saved him."
Archer watched as Trip was wrapped in several blankets by Elizabeth Cutler. His best friend couldn't stop shivering and his breathing was coming in rapid gasps. That water had been the coldest water Jonathan had ever touched. He was glad that Trip had been the one to jump in, but at the same time he felt guilty that Malcolm wasn't doing well. Malcolm was lifted onto a gurney and covered with several blankets, which the man was trying to fight.
"Can't… breathe… so cold," the ill man murmured as Phlox rushed him to Sick Bay.
Cutler followed the others, helping Commander Tucker down the corridor. Jonathan saw T'Pol come towards him. He sighed and stood up, shaking.
"Are you alright?" she inquired.
"Yeah, it's just really, really cold in that water. I don't know if Malcolm's going to be okay. He was under the water for a long time," Archer replied.
"You probably should go to Sick Bay. Doctor Phlox will want to make sure that you get warmed up."
"He's got enough to deal with right now. I'm going to take a long, hot shower and then go sit with Malcolm."
Cold. Ice breaking. Plunging into the water. He felt the water stabbing his weak body.
He couldn't swim. The water surrounding him. His chest hurting. Water coming into his lungs as he tried to breath. Choking on the water.
Panic. He couldn't control this. His body was shutting down.
Drowning. Malcolm sank to the bottom of the river and saw slowly pushed along the bottom until he hit a hard surface. He was terrified, unable to open his eyes.
Not wanting to give up, Malcolm tried to push off the bottom, but he was trapped by the hard thing he bumped into. His shoes and clothes were full of water, holding him down more.
Panic was controlling him. Malcolm couldn't breath. His lungs were filled with the alien liquid.
Drowning. What a terrible way to die. Drowning.
Drowning. Malcolm felt the pain in his body before he could even open his eyes. He had no idea where he was. He felt so cold and breathing was still hard to do. Sweat condensed on his forehead, but he kept shivering. He heard voices, but they seemed distant.
"Lieutenant… Malcolm… pneumonia … hypothermia… not responding well… consciousness…"
He couldn't recognize the voices that were speaking. The pains in his chest were increasing as he remembering the feeling of the water closing in. [No, please stop. He thought as he slipped back into a sleep filled with nightmares and unease.
Captain Archer sat on a chair in Sick Bay, facing his two friends. Commander Tucker was drinking warm coffee, laying on a bio-bed next to Lieutenant Reed. Doctor Phlox was treating Trip for hypothermia. His body temperature had dropped rapidly in the few minutes in the not-so-frozen river. He had already increased his body temperature a little, but it was still too low to release him. Trip had tried to protest, but Jon advised against it since Malcolm was so sick. This way they could both be with him.
"How's he doing Doc?" the captain asked the Denobulan who was checking the monitor above Malcolm.
"No well. Malcolm has developed pneumonia in the last hour. I am attempting to increase his body temperature to get rid of his hypothermia, but his body is not responding well. I am unsure when he will regain consciousness. Right now, the biggest concern is his temperature. If I can get his body temperature normal, he might stand a chance. The next few hours are crucial to his survival," Phlox said, his eyes locked with Jon's.
"Thanks Doc. I know you won't give up on him."
The Denobulan went to another part of Sick Bay to review more scans he had taken of the man. Jonathan got up and walked over to Malcolm's side. He placed his hand on his friend's cold hand. There was a tube going into his nose, giving him pure oxygen to help his breathing. His face was incredibly pale and he had a cut down his left cheek. Jon guessed that something under the water had cut him when he fell through the ice. Malcolm suddenly tensed up and started coughing. The captain tried to calm him down until the spell passed. He could hear the stuff in his lungs as he coughed.
The doors to Sick Bay opened and Hoshi came in, looking very worried. She was playing with the ends of her dark hair. Captain Archer strolled over to her before she could see Malcolm clearly.
"How's he doing?" Hoshi whispered.
"Honestly, not good," Jonathan answered. "He's got hypothermia and pneumonia. Phlox doesn't know when he'll wake up."
She nodded, looking down and avoiding eye-contact.
"How's Commander Tucker?"
"He also has hypothermia, but the Doctor says that he'll be as a good as new. He'll be able to return to his quarters tomorrow."
Hoshi glanced over at the Lieutenant, listening to his ragged breathing with her excellent hearing. She could hear his chest had something congesting it. Looking beside him, Trip was finishing a cup of coffee and watching his friend sleep; his eyes filled with concern.
"What exactly happened down there?" she pleaded to know.
"We were walking to the shuttle pod and Malcolm noticed that there was a frozen river in our path. He seemed a little… off. I didn't think anything of it. As we were walking across Trip noticed that Malcolm wasn't beside him. He turned around and then he yelled my name. I looked. Malcolm fell through the ice. Trip found him, we melted the ice, and he dove in and pulled him out. He wasn't breathing. I had to give him CPR. I thought we lost him."
"I never… Malcolm is always so cautious. Why did this happen?" she muttered, blinking away tears.
Hoshi didn't want Captain Archer to answer. She walked around him and towards Trip. The chief engineer smiled at her, pulling his blanket tighter around his shoulders. Jon followed her.
"How are you doing?"
"Cold, but it's not so bad," Tucker said, trying to keep the air light.
The young woman fixed her eyes on the Lieutenant. He looked horrible. The tube in his nose giving him oxygen made him look so ill. The cut on his face was red around the edges, sticking out on his extremely pale face. The brief time apart had made him younger in her mind. He had almost drowned, falling into an alien, frozen river. Malcolm was covered in at least four heated blankets, yet he still shivered. She needed to touch him to make sure that he was real.
"Trip, you saved his life. We are all so grateful," Hoshi told the commander, not looking away from Malcolm.
"He would have done the same for any of us. It was nothing," the man smiled.
"Do you think it would be okay if I sat alone with him for a while?" she desired to know.
"Sure," Jon replied. "Let me pull the curtain around, so you can have privacy."
He pulled the curtain around the bed, after giving his chair to Hoshi. Once the curtain was closed, Hoshi sighed.
"Hi Malcolm," Hoshi murmured. "You look… horrible, but you're alive. I wish you could tell us that you're 'fine'. It would give me some comfort."
The Lieutenant stirred a little, and then coughed harshly. He gasped for air, but didn't open his eyes. Hoshi ran her fingers through his damp hair, calming with man as she hummed softly until his coughing ended, and his breathing returned to normal.
"You poor thing. Malcolm… I don't know if you can hear me. But… you are the hardest person to get to know. I've tried to be your friend. You push people away. I can't stay away. Hearing Trip order T'Pol to bring them quickly and that you were hurt… it scared me so much. I realized that I never wanna lose you."
Malcolm made no movement, acknowledging that he had heard what she said. He was still unconscious. Hoshi let a few tears fall down her cheeks as she warmed his hand with hers. She knew that Captain Archer and Trip were waiting outside the curtain of "not so much privacy". The woman dared not to say anything else to Malcolm with them so close by. Yet, she could not bring herself to leave him alone. He looked like her needed her. Hoshi pulled up the chair and sat down. The sound of his breathing was somewhat soothing to her heart that was aching with the pain of seeing the man she cared about so helpless and needy. Her lips placed a soft kiss on his chilled fingers, soft enough that he barely felt it, but she would remember it.
It was two hours before the linguist could bring herself to leave him and the man still had not regained consciousness. Doctor Phlox had been in to check on the man several times and adjust the temperature of the blankets covering Malcolm. He still didn't know for sure how the Lieutenant would manage. Hoshi was exhausted. Phlox practically had to order her to go get some rest. She gave Malcolm a kiss on the cheek and parted from her friend. Commander Tucker was sleeping lightly on his bio-bed, holding a padd loosely in one hand. Captain Archer was sleeping with his head on the edge of the bed.
"It doesn't appear that they got much rest on their shore leave," Hoshi whispered, observing the men.
"No it doesn't," Phlox chuckled. "But I assume this shore leave was more about having fun then catching up on rest. They were busy catching up on friendship."
She nodded and out of the blue gave the Denobulan a big hug. He smiled.
"I'll make sure that you will be informed of any changes."
"Thank you, Doctor," she sniffed, wiping away her tears. "I know you will. Please don't let him die."
Lieutenant Reed felt the water pouring over his head and cutting off his air supply. The muscles in his chest contracted. He tried to place his hand on his chest, but couldn't. He couldn't breathe! The water was choking him. He was drowning in the freezing water.
"Malcolm, it's okay. Relax," a familiar voice called.
He was drowning, no one could save him. He knew if he called out that water would enter his lungs quicker. No, he couldn't say anything. Drowning. Malcolm choked on the water filling his lungs as he attempted to breathe. He felt a warm hand touch his cold hand. Wait, that hand wasn't wet.
"What's going on?" another voice demanded to know.
"He's having a panic attack."
That voice he recognized. It was Doctor Phlox. He must be in Sick Bay, back on Enterprise, not in the water anymore. Malcolm tried to calm down, but found he was still struggling with breathing. He felt a breathing mask come down on his face and knew he had to breath slower. He wasn't drowning anymore. The familiar feel of a hypo-spray went into his neck and his chest didn't feel as tight anymore. Gingerly opening his eyes, Malcolm found that they were very heavy. He had to blink several times before Sick Bay swam into view.
"Hey Malcolm," Captain Archer said as Malcolm looked his direction. "How are you doing? You gave us quite a scare."
Malcolm now saw that Doctor Phlox, Captain Archer, and Commander Tucker were standing beside him and he was lying on a bio-bed in Sick Bay. He opened his mouth to speak, but was only able to cough. Jonathan grabbed a cup of water and offered it to him. Malcolm turned his head the other way.
"No water," he croaked, coughing with the effort of speaking.
"Lieutenant, drink the water," Jon ordered.
Reed had no choice but to obey him. Jonathan removed the mask and helped him take a sip of the water. He tried to get him to drink a little more, but Malcolm turned his head, letting a little spill onto his pillow. Jon sighed and set the cup back on the other bed.
"How long have I been out?" Malcolm muttered.
"Three days," Trip answered.
"What time is it?"
"What happened?" the Lieutenant inquired, trying to wrap his mind around the idea what he had been unconscious for three days.
"You almost drowned. I had to jump in and pull you out. The captain had to bring you back because you weren't breathing. Phlox says that you and I had hypothermia. It took a long time to get your body temperature normal. You've got pneumonia now. We didn't know if you were going to make it until last night when your temperature finally leveled out and you became stable."
Malcolm studied the faces of his two friends and saw that they looked exhausted from having very little sleep. They must have stayed by his side all three days.
"You shouldn't have put yourself at risk."
Jonathan and Trip sighed. "Have you learned yet that we aren't going to just let you go? You're a part of my crew and our friend," Jon smiled.
Malcolm sighed, taking deep breaths of the oxygen and finally relaxing. Maybe they weren't going to abandon him. He lifted his head slightly as the doors to Sick Bay opened. Hoshi stood in the doorway, staring at him and only wearing a light blue nightgown. Her dark hair was flowing over her shoulders and her eyes were red from crying. She was barefoot. Malcolm shivered from the cold, thinking of how cold she must be. She was a picture of beauty.
"Ensign?" he muttered loud enough for her to hear him.
In that moment Hoshi ran across the room and gently threw her arms around Malcolm. Hugging him, Hoshi wept all over the man. Occasionally she looked up into his eyes to make sure that he was still alive. Malcolm cautiously lifted his hand and touched her soft locks.
"You should be able to leave Sick Bay in a few days. I'll like to keep you in Sick Bay longer. You just woke up and your body just starting to respond to the medication for your pneumonia," Phlox told Malcolm.
"Get some rest Malcolm," Jon and Trip said as they left Sick Bay to give the two some privacy.
He watched his friends leave and Doctor Phlox disappear somewhere among his animals. It was just him and Hoshi, alone in Sick Bay. Hoshi lifted her head off his warm chest and smiled, removing the breathing mask. Her hair fell over her shoulder, some touching Malcolm's cheek. She placed a warm hand on his other cheek. Malcolm knew what was coming. Her beautiful lips were going to kiss him.
Before he could say anything, her lips jumped onto his. The kiss was filled with passion, romance, and sparks. In all of his life, Malcolm had never been kissed like that. He leaned into the kiss, not caring that she was a lower rank or in a nightgown. Anyone who would have witnessed the kiss would have blushed from their lack of responsibility. Hoshi and Malcolm couldn't have been happier together. Sometimes, when distracted, thoughts begin to wonder and Malcolm realized that he should have trusted his friends with the truth about his aquaphobia. But then… if he hadn't almost drowned, Hoshi would never been kissing him on a bio-bed in Sick Bay. He was still deathly afraid of water, but he kinda noticed that Jonathan, Trip, and the entire crew would never let him die. Hoshi broke the kiss, but kept her face close to his.
"Don't ever leave me," she whispered in his ear.
"Never," Malcolm promised, kissing her in return.