Sickbay, F Deck, 0400 hours, February 7, 2154

Malcolm was only vaguely aware of Trip taking him into the airlock and of the Captain helping to get him to the EV-suit changing room which was adjacent to the shuttlebay. He was steered over to a bench where he felt himself being clumsily tugged out of his EV suit one limb at a time. He could tell that there were loads of people in the room but he wasn't sure why.

What are they all doing in here? What's going on? Why am I still so hot?

"We need to get his body temperature down. Let's get him to Sickbay."

That's Phlox's voice. If he's here I must be badly off...

A pair of medics hauled Malcolm upright and swiftly guided him through the doors and towards Sickbay with Phlox a few steps behind.

In Sickbay he was unceremoniously stripped down to his underwear and put on a biobed. As soon as he touched the bed the bio sensors chirped to life reading his heart rate, body temperature, rate of respiration and any number of other vital stats. However, the only readings that anyone was worried about at the moment was his body temperature, which was still dangerously high.

He felt something cool being spread on the back of his neck and partway onto his shoulders while a cool cloth was being moved over his face and then down onto his neck and chest.

"C'mon, sweetheart. Stay with me. Alright, tough guy, you can handle this. Wake up. Please just wake up." She hovered next to the bed worriedly and wrung out the cloth over him, letting the drops of water run all over his skin before she began to fan him gently with part of a blanket.

"Mmm. That feels nice."

She squeezed the cloth harder in her excitement and bent down to kiss him, kissing and touching every part of him that she could reach. "Mally!"

After kissing her back he smiled, still slightly out of it but conscious enough to tease her. "Sorry to say he's melted. This puddle is all that's left..."

There was a moment's pause before he asked the question. "Did it work?" He'd only stayed out on the hull with Trip in those hellish temperatures because they'd had a job to do; shut down the plasma feed so the fire in the leak wouldn't spread to the warp reactor and destroy the ship.

She nodded and kissed him again, as though she were trying to convince herself that he was actually all right. "It worked. Did you know it reached over 48 (118F) in your EV suit? I don't know how you stayed conscious in that heat."

He smiled. "I'm just extraordinarily stubborn. And on that note, I'd better be getting back to... " He started to sit up but didn't get very far before she pressed him back down onto the bed.

"Oh no you don't. Mister, you aren't going anywhere until I've gotten your body temperature down at least ten degrees and until you've rested." He was about to protest but she laid a finger across his lips to keep him quiet.

"I don't want to hear it. Besides," she smirked "puddles can't go on active duty. We need to wait for you to un-melt and don't bother arguing, 'cause we both know that I'm just as stubborn as you are."

Knowing that he was outmatched, Malcolm twisted his mouth in a wry smile and threw his hands up in token of surrender. "Alright, I won't try to go anywhere, but how long do I have to stay?"

She studied his vitals briefly and estimated the rate at which he'd been cooling down. "I'd say half an hour to an hour." He made a quiet displeased noise and looked at her carefully, trying to decide whether she was serious or not.

She's serious, and I am tired. Just try to make the most of it.

"I could use a bit of a nap." He ran a dry tongue over even drier lips. It seemed like his mouth was the only part of his whole body which wasn't soaking wet. Of course, that was due to the amount of sweating his body had done in an effort to cool itself down. Naturally he was bound to be dehydrated, and since she knew this Jean was already pouring him a tall glass of cold water.

"So just lie still and let me take care of you."

Because of the angle Degra couldn't see everything that was happening, but it was very clear to him that the female human bending over the Lieutenant was distraught.

"Are they just collegues? I mean, are all the humans in your crew this concerned for each other's well-being?"

These people can't be the monsters described to the Xindi Council by the Guardians. They're compassionate, they have empathy... I can't believe that I... I killed seven million of these people. Why did I do it?

A bitter and tightly furious voice at his elbow interrupted Degra's train of thought.

"Those two were gonna get married before we got sent on this mission. Now they're both runnin' the risk of gettin' killed everyday because they care more about the safety of our world than about gettin' hitched. You're married, aren't ya? You've got kids. How would you feel if your wife an' children were put in danger just cause some aliens were convinced that your descendants were gonna attack their descendants?"

Archer glared at Trip and took a step towards him. "That's enough, Commander!"

Trip turned around and stormed out of Sickbay before Degra had a chance to answer his questions.