Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't make money off 'em.

Notes: This is the last chapter, where they retake the Bridge...and both Malcolm and Hayes each make a decision that will affect their relationships with Hoshi.

Thank you to all my readers and reviewers! You have all been AWESOME:)

Rating: T


Seven

"You can hear what's going on from this console," Malcolm assured Captain Archer, as he made some adjustments to the screen next to Archer's biobed. "If something happens, you can contact me directly through my communicator."

"Thank you, Malcolm," Archer said. It was the only way that the captain would agree to stay in Sickbay. Of course, Phlox adamantly refused to allow him to accompany the "pirates" to the Bridge, but as long as Archer believed he was helping, it would make him feel "necessary". Malcolm knew the sentiment, so he made sure that the comm circuit worked the way it was supposed to.

"Cargo Bay One to Phlox. Doctor, we need some help down here."

Phlox nodded at Crewman Paulsen, who grabbed several medkits. "Crewman Doering, Ensign Breyer, accompany Crewman Paulsen to the Cargo Bay."

"Yes, Doctor," and both men followed Paulsen at a run. Phlox directed the medical teams where they were needed most, like a general on the field. The Denobulan's calm and professional attitude made a remarkable impression on Malcolm; after all, Phlox had been a military man himself, at one point in time.

Where is Hoshi? He wondered. Archer had told him she'd left the Bridge moments before it had been gassed. He hadn't seen her at all. He hoped she was all right.

"You'll let me know once the Bridge is secure?"

"The very moment, Captain," Malcolm reassured him for the thousandth time. He pointed at the access ladder with his chin. "They'll expect us to use the lift. Let's surprise them, shall we?"

So his "pirates" clambered up the five decks, from E Deck to A Deck. Malcolm pulled himself up, muscles aching from the exertion. He tapped the control to the emergency hatch, but it only buzzed back. "I'm locked out. They've changed the code."

"Allow me, sir," said Crewman Sean McIntyre. Malcolm squeezed out of the way so the Engineering crewman had access to the panel. He glanced at his merry "band"; every member wore the same expression of determination. Malcolm didn't have to ask; they all knew they duty.

"Think we can keep the get-ups after all this is over?" Cutler teased. She shrugged her delicate shoulders, causing the tight bodice to slide with her movement. Hawkins visibly gulped and looked away.

"Why? You got somethin' in mind for it?" Hess piped up.

"Maybe," Liz replied with a wink. "What do you think, Anna?"

The engineer pretended to think it over, then said slowly, "Hmmm...I might have some accessories in my wardrobe that could match really well with—"

"Gott in Himmel!" Bernhard burst out. "That is too much information, Anna! We do not need to know that!"

"Just kidding, Bernhard," Anna told the glowering Bavarian. "I wouldn't want to offend your delicate sensibilities."

"My delicate sensibilities?"

They all laughed, even as Bernhard turned bright scarlet. "All right," Malcolm said, bringing some levity back to the situation. "Let's finish this, shall we. Mister McIntyre?"

"Almost have it, sir." McIntyre nodded at the Armory Officer and added, "Five seconds. Five, four, three, two...one!"

The panel slid open and they all burst onto the Bridge. Every station was manned by a Nausicaan: Tactical, helm, navigation, engineering, communications and others shouting and growling to each other. Most of the Bridge functions were frozen; from his vantage point, Malcolm saw that warp was off line, and that all outgoing communications were jammed. Hoshi and Trip, he thought.

"We can't get any of the controls to work, Soresh!" the one at the helm burst out in frustration. "They've managed to lock us out!"

"Soresh is taking a bit of a nap," Malcolm replied icily. The other Nausicaans looked up from the stations and before they could react, the doors to the lift blew open, and Hayes's group poured out. Malcolm saw Hoshi duck under a Nausicaan's wild punch, then drive her fist into her attacker's side. He smiled inwardly, Good girl. That's the way to do it.

The Nausicaans knew they were surrounded, but they refused to give up. One of them pulled out a rifle and pointed it at the captain's chair. He squeezed the trigger, engulfing Archer's seat in a mess of sparks and smoke. Then he pointed it towards the Tactical station. Gunny and Hawkins immediately tackled the Nausciaan down to the deck, while Travis kicked the rifle out of the way and slid into the helm chair at the same time.

Anna Hess and Sean McIntyre were at the Engineering station, while Hoshi was at Communications. She caught Malcolm's eye and smiled, then turned her attention back to her console. Bernhard gave Malcolm a quick thumbs-up, indicating the weapons had been secured.

The MACOs made short work of the Nausicaans on the lower deck, but one of them threw Gunny bodily out of the way, who landed on McKenzie and Money in an undignified sprawl. He grabbed a knife and threw it...

"No!" Hayes shouted. He grabbed his blaster and squeezed off a shot that struck the Nausicaan in the face, as Malcolm tackled Hoshi out of her chair and they both hit the deck. Malcolm, Cutler and Travis were at their side immediately. Hoshi clawed her hair out of her eyes, then started as she saw blood on her hands.

"No, not me!" she shouted at Cutler. Tears filled her eyes and streamed down her face. She crawled over to Malcolm's side. "Malcolm! You idiot, talk to me!"

Hayes heard the anguish in her voice and throttled down a surge of jealousy. He looked down to see the hilt of the Nausicaan knife lodged in the lieutenant's right side, between his ribs. Malcolm Reed's face was pale with shock, but his eyes were calm, accepting.

"You were a bit slow, Lieutenant," Hayes teased gently, but he felt his voice catch in his throat. He didn't have to look at Cutler to know it was bad, really bad.

Malcolm glared at him and mouthed something that needed no translation. Then Malcolm turned his head and smiled at Hoshi. "Worth...it...though."

"Don't close your eyes, Lieutenant," Hayes growled as he shook Malcolm's shoulder. "Don't just give up on us."

"Hang on, Malcolm," Cutler told him. Tears fell from her eyes as she worked. "I'm trying to stabilize you. Phlox is coming..." She glanced at Hayes. "Major Hayes, sir, put your hand here and press hard."

Hayes nodded and swallowed his nausea as he did as she asked. He deliberately averted his eyes from the wound in Reed's side. Then he felt a small hand atop his; Hoshi had slid her hand on his and also pressed down. He managed a smile at her.

"Keep talking to him," Cutler instructed. "Malcolm, you're B-positive, right?" At his weak nod, she looked up at a pale-faced Hawkins. "Let Sickbay know to prep for immediate surgery, Corporal and make sure we've got a full stock of B-positive." Hawkins nodded and went to do as she asked.

"If you need any blood, I'm B-positive," Hayes told her.

"Just what I need," Malcolm joked weakly. "Your blood in my veins. I wouldn't be able to get rid of you even if I wanted to."

"I'll make sure you're stuck with me," Hayes joked back. Where the hell is Phlox? He thought. There was weak laughter among the MACOs and the Enterprise crew, but they were all beginning to wonder the same thing.

"Looks like...you've won... the challenge," Malcolm whispered, his eyes starting to close. "I—"

"How many times to I have to tell you...I don't want your job," Hayes said, every word hard and biting. "When will that sink through your thick British skull and not come out of your ass?"

Hoshi elbowed him viciously. "Stop it, Matthew. Just stop it."

"No, he's right." Malcolm took a deep breath. "Truce."

"Truce," Hayes replied, his voice suddenly soft. He glanced at Hoshi's tear-stained face and he sighed. I wonder if she knows that she loves him yet or if she's completely unaware of it. The latter, I'd guess. His heart was bruised, but he hid a secret smile as he caught another whiff of Hoshi's floral perfume. Accident or not, fate or not, he would treasure that memory for the rest of his life.

Then Phlox finally appeared and shooed everyone away. "Major, Ensign Mayweather, Gunny, Corporal Hawkins, can you all lift the lieutenant onto the gurney?"

Hayes nodded and motioned for the other men to help. They moved an unconscious Malcolm onto the gurney as gently as they could, but despite Cutler's efforts, there was a disturbing amount of blood on the deck and on Hayes's clothes. Malcolm clung to Hoshi's hand like a lifeline and Hayes didn't have the heart to order her away. Phlox nodded at him with complete understanding.

"Go with him, Hoshi," the major whispered. "He needs you."

She gave him a grateful smile, tiptoed and kissed him on the cheek. Then she followed Phlox and the others into the lift. Hayes sighed again and shook his head, then said, "Tell Captain Archer, Sub-Commander T'Pol and Commander Tucker the Bridge is secure. And Mister Mayweather—"

"Major?"

"I believe you're the ranking senior officer on the Bridge right now. Just don't fly us into an asteroid."

Mayweather grinned and said, "Don't worry, Major. I'll be careful."


Captain Archer's Log:

Life has returned to "normal" on Enterprise, at least as normal as it can be. The Nausicaans have been taken off the ship and into custody. Actual damage to the ship has been minimal, if you don't count the captain's chair. Trip jokes that now he has the opportunity to redesign my chair again, instead of just lowering it a few centimeters. I shudder to think of the vibrating massager, the cupholder, and God knows what else he has in mind.

Malcolm's still recovering in Sickbay. Hoshi told me how he had thrown himself in the path of a Nausicaan knife meant for her, saving her life. It really doesn't surprise me that he did that; I have a sneaking suspicion that our intrepid Armory officer may have more than just a crush on our communications officer.

Travis is in the process of taking inventory of the cargo of the Nausicaan ship and they're locating the owners of the stolen loot. I think Travis feels better by helping the authorities do this. Being a Boomer who's tangled with the pirates before, he can fully understand and appreciate it.

I've read the reports on the "pirate operation" and it all sounds like some sort of thing you'd see on Movie Night. But I've put commendations in the files of all who were involved in saving the Enterprise, including Major Hayes and his MACOs.


"...Trip's almost done with the captain's chair," Hoshi said and Malcolm listened as he perused hie PADD. "I think the captain's paranoid about what Trip's put in it."

"I still believe he should've kept the seatbelts, though," Malcolm muttered. "It would've made more sense than a bloody cupholder."

Hoshi chuckled and resolutely plucked the PADD out of his hand. "I never did thank you for saving my life, Malcolm."

"I couldn't just stand by and do nothing," Malcolm pointed out with a smile. "And I have to admit that the MACOs were exemplary; they performed their duty with panache. At least, as much as could be done while flapping around in silks and gold—"

"Liz, Sascha and Fiona kept their pirate gear. I asked Travis if he could find me a set—"\

Malcolm choked at the mental image of Hoshi in silk and leather. She glanced up at him with sparkling wicked eyes. "Ah—you did?"

"It'd be good for the next Halloween party. I've got some accessories in my closet that would go really well with—"

Malcolm groaned and shut his eyes tight as she laughed. "What? Are you all right, Malcolm?"

"Fine," he squeaked. "Just fine." He opened one eye, then said, "I never meant to imply you were a 'weak damsel in distress'. Just the opposite. You're full of surprises, Hoshi Sato."

Her grin widened as she thought, So are you, Malcolm Reed. So are you.


Major Matthew Hayes crept into Sickbay to hear voices and laughter floating from the cordoned-off biobed. He grinned as he heard Malcolm Reed say, "You're full of surprises, Hoshi Sato."

Yes, you definitely are, Hoshi. He glanced around to make sure no one saw him, then blew her a kiss in her direction. Our secret will stay a secret. I'll never tell.

Then he turned and walked out of Sickbay.


Hoshi raised a hand to her flushed cheek. Her hearing had picked up the sounds of someone coming in, a soft breath of promise, then someone leaving. No matter what happened in the Expanse, she knew she had two warriors who were willing to fight at her side...both with a touch of a pirate within him.