This is the final chapter of Turquoise! I'm sorry to keep you waiting. Thanks to everyone that has reviewed or didn't review, but still enjoyed reading. Thanks!
Chapter 4 – Like a Friend
Malcolm rolled over again and pulled the blanket over his head, sighing as he heard the doors to sickbay open. The blueness hadn't gone away one bit and Phlox said that it might take a few days to get completely out of his system. Mal wished he could jump out the nearest airlock and not have to face the shame of being an unnatural color for two to three days. Someone stifled a chuckle in the background. Commander Tucker had come to fetch him and bring him to his quarters, since he was having trouble keeping his balance when walking. Trip hadn't seen him yet, but Mal was sure that Captain Archer had informed him of the situation and the correct protocol to not upset him, which he would ignore.
"Hey Malcolm," the southern drawl made the butterflies in his stomach fly faster. "You gonna say hi?"
"Good evening, Commander," Mal muttered loud enough for him to hear.
"Phlox tells me that you need a little help to your quarters. He says that the dizziness hasn't subsided yet and he wants me to accompany you."
Malcolm didn't speak, hoping that Trip would think he was dead and go away. No such luck. There was no sound of Trip moving off.
"Come on out. Capt'n told me what happened on the planet. Phlox also says that actually the rinn roots they cooked the tak-far in were what you were allergic to and not the podia. Capt'n told me that Prime Minister Gamin apologized this morning."
Trip's voice was quiet and understanding, but Malcolm didn't trust him. His bloody camera could be hiding anywhere and he didn't dare check. The only sound in sickbay was Phlox's animals and from somewhere in the back came an off-tune version of Jingle Bells. Malcolm felt Trip put a hand on his blanketed foot and sigh.
"I could order you to remove the blanket."
"But you won't," Malcolm replied.
"Come on, Mal."
"If you promise not to laugh at me, I'll come out."
"I promise," he chuckled.
Malcolm wasn't convinced, but he had agreed to come out. He slowly pulled the blanket off his head, peeking out. Trip was standing in front of him, smiling. Mal didn't see his camera and pulled the rest of his blanket down. He watched as his friend came closer, holding a green shirt. Malcolm carefully took it and pulled it over his head.
"How are you feeling?" Trip asked, still grinning.
"I'm fine. Let's just get his over with."
He slid to the edge of the bio-bed as Trip steadied him with his arms. Mal felt the room spin as his bare feet landed on the cold deck-plating. We wrapped the blanket around his shoulder, tucking his hands inside. Trip said good-bye to Doctor Phlox and they started out of sickbay. Every time they came across one of the crewmembers, Mal would pull the blanket in front of his face and let Trip guide him forward. It was terribly embarrassing.
"We're at your quarters," Trip announced.
"Do you think you can manage from here?"
"Yes," he replied, blushing.
"Okay, I'll come pick you up before we leave for the ceremony. You have twenty minutes."
Malcolm nodded and slipped into his quarters without another word. Trip lingered in the doorway for a moment before leaving. Mal went straight into his bathroom to take a shower and see if he could scrub off any of the blue pigment. He held little enthusiasm for the approaching party.
Malcolm heard his doorbell ring again and Trip's impatient voice outside the door. He had no desire to open the door, but had to. He adjusted the top of his uniform and moved to let his friend in as a dizzy spell took him. He sat down on his bed, putting his face in hands to control the spinning. Trip was getting impatient.
"Are you gonna let me in?" Trip asked. "I have a surprise for you."
Malcolm was too dizzy to get up and answer. He knew that Trip would eventually open the door with his security code if he stayed quiet. A minute later, his door swooshed open and Trip entered. He didn't bother to look up as Trip kneeled in front of him.
"You okay?" he inquired.
"Just a little dizzy again."
Malcolm glanced up at him and his jaw dropped. Trip was blue, the exact same color as him. He was smiling at him and laughing with a hint of concern in his eyes.
"Umm… Commander, you are turquoise."
"Yep, something wrong with that?"
Mal didn't answer as Trip helped him stand up and he got his balance. He shook his head in disbelief, but it accelerated the spinning. Trip caught him as he stumbled.
"Let's just get this over with," Mal said, smiling slightly.
Walking down the corridor, crewmembers smiled at the two and laughed. He didn't feel so uncomfortable with Trip beside him, looking the same color. They arrived at the launch bay and Malcolm actually laughed out loud. Hoshi and Captain Archer were waiting for them in the shuttle pod with Travis. His friends were also pale blue. They laughed at his face. Jonathan motioned for him to get in, tapping his wrist, acknowledging that they were running late. Malcolm got inside with Trip stabilizing him so he didn't fall. The trip to the surface was quick and playful as Hoshi joked about them picking up girls that liked blue men.
"Welcome back, Captain Archer," Gamin greeted as they stepped out. "Oh dear, has the blueness spread to you and the others?"
"Yep, but it is okay. The doctor says it will be gone in a few days," Jonathan lied, shaking Gamin's hand. "Shall we begin?"
The evening went fairly smooth after Gamin finished his speech. A few of crewmembers on shore leave had constructed a rough kite and were teaching several children how to fly it on the sandy beach. Malcolm completely forgot to be embarrassed with Trip beside him, making him laugh and keeping him entertained. Finally, the sun began to set and the party slowed down. Couples walked down the beach, holding hands. Others played in the light waves or sat in front of the numerous campfires. Travis convinced Hoshi that there was something on the shore that she should see and he dunked her into the ocean. Malcolm was surprised that she remained blue, even though she was sopping wet. Trip ushered Malcolm to sit down next to a vacant campfire, watching the sunset.
"Umm…" Malcolm began.
"Yeah, Malcolm, what's up?" Trip injected, fiddling with a knife and piece of wood.
"I want to thank you and the others for… helping me survive this evening… since I look… you…"
"You're welcome. We understand," Hoshi said, sitting down on a log opposite him, squeezing water out of her wet hair. "It's been fun to be blue. Trip came up with idea by himself and thought we might like to join in. Phlox was delighted to turn us blue."
"Thank you," Malcolm murmured, grateful that the dimming light hid his blush.
He looked up as Captain Archer came over, listening to an ecstatic Prime Minister talking about the new few days. They were talking about a boat trip for some of the crew. Jon smiled when he saw him.
"How are you feeling, Lieutenant?" Jonathan asked.
"I'm doing alright, sir."
Malcolm started to smile, but quickly frowned when he saw that Jonathan was holding Trip's camera. They were going to take a picture of him looking like a blue idiot! He fought the urge to stand up and dismiss himself, lying about not feeling well. Jon saw his face and laughed.
"I was wondering, Prime Minister, if you could be willing to take a picture with us in the sunset."
Gamin grinned. "I'd love to Captain."
Malcolm winced at Trip forced him to stand up and the moved closer to the water. He saw Captain Archer asking a crewman to take their picture. Trip threw his arm around Malcolm in order to prevent him from fleeing. Travis shoved Hoshi next to Mal and he gingerly put his arm around her gentle frame. Jonathan stood next to Trip, putting an arm over his friend's shoulder. Gamin stood next to Jon, smiling at the strange arm movements. The young man holding the camera chuckled at the blue figures and got ready to take the picture.
"Everyone smile and say cheese," he laughed.
Trip elbowed Malcolm, forcing him to smile at the camera that would hold this moment forever in infamy. He sighed and felt himself say "cheese" along with the others. The camera flashed, leaving them momentarily blind. And then everything was right back to normal. Trip motioned to Travis and the two grabbed Jonathan's arms, pulling him towards the ocean. Malcolm watched as they dunked him into the cool water as they all laughed. Gamin seemed pleased at the exchange and muttered rapidly to his daughter Tulia that had approached. Mal knew he should have been afraid of the water, but at that moment he felt at ease. He realized that Hoshi was still standing beside him.
"Would you like to make a sandcastle with me?" she inquired, locking eyes with him and smiling.
"I bet we could build a better sandcastle than Trip and Travis," Malcolm teased.
"Deal," she agreed.
He watched as his friend ran over the three men goofing off in the water and told them of the new plan. They all seemed to be excited by the idea and came running back towards him. It was a funny sight! They looked like smurfs or Andorians, but really… they were his friends. Malcolm chuckled, remembering that he looked exactly them, but probably worse. He inwardly thought about the picture they just took. He might have to actually hang something in his quarters for once. A picture of him and his turquoise friends.