Written for: Sue C's Birthday.
Trip moved down the corridor with purpose in his stride, nodding distractedly at those few he met, pointedly ignoring the curious looks they gave him as he passed. He was a man with a mission: and that mission was Malcolm Reed.
Malcolm had never said that he liked him; never once gave an overt indication. But Trip could tell. It wasn't the things that Malcolm did that gave him a clue – it was more the things he didn't do. Being an engineer, and thus used to organizing things in a certain way, Trip visualized the following as a bulleted list:
-That time, during sparring practice, when Malcolm intentionally pulled the punch to his face that, if he'd been Travis or – Trip laughed – Jon, Malcolm would have let land.
-The time when they'd both been in line in the mess, and Malcolm, just ahead of him, had reached out for the last piece of pie, but at the last second had grabbed the pound cake instead.
-The time that – and this one was just this morning, and had caused all this – Malcolm had looked up at him from across the breakfast table, grey eyes gone stormy blue, and not looked away.
That one – that one had been killer. That one was why he was here. Despite knowing Malcolm for less than a month. Despite Malcolm coming across, for all intents and purposes, as a stuck up prig bastard. Despite all that.
So that's why he'd dug up the courage and was standing here now, outside Malcolm's door, a six pack of beer in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other (Hey, the best he could do on short notice, and yeah, maybe the Doritos weren't the best idea for a date – smelly breath possibilities and all – but he was kind of stuck for options.) He tucked the beer up under the arm holding the Doritos, and, dragging in an audible breath, was just about to hit the door chime when, "Shit," he said aloud as the door in front of him slid open despite his lack of knocking.
Malcolm stood there, in full uniform, not one dark hair out of place despite the late hour. Lips pursed, brow raised in surprise, he said, "Commander?"
"Sorry, yeah, I…" Trip frowned, nonplussed.
"Rather late for a visit, isn't it?" Malcolm added, and Trip wasn't quite sure if his tone was teasing – as in "Mistah Tuckah you're a git," or teasing – as in "Mister Tucker, you big hunk o' man, you."
Trip settled on stating the obvious. "I brought snacks."
"I can see that," Malcolm said, eyes flashing his amusement.
Trip's frown deepened. Maybe his original perception of Malcolm as stuck up prig bastard was more right then he'd care to admit. But still, those eyes… "I thought you were off duty."
Trip waived his free hand. "And so you're…?"
"Going to the mess for some tea," Malcolm finished for him, speaking slowly, as if explaining warp physics to a small child.
Trip let his eyes rove the man's body, trying to remind himself of just why he was putting himself through this torture. Finally, he said, deadpan, "In your uniform."
And at that, Malcolm blushed. "A poorly planned laundry day."
"Ah," Trip said, standing in the doorway like a complete idiot. Which he was. There was nothing about how Malcolm was acting now to indicate that he was in any way interested even in the beer, never mind in the man bringing it. "So…" he said, shifting awkwardly.
"Would you like to come in, Commander?" Malcolm said, his manner impossible for Trip to interpret.
Resignedly? Well, certainly not eagerly. Deciding not to analyze Malcolm's tone or posture, Trip nodded and brushed past him. "Yeah, sure," he said casually, as if his entire being didn't depend on it. Which it didn't. He wasn't a teenage girl or anything. But still. Malcolm hadn't exactly sounded enthused.
Time to pull out the big guns.
"I brought my last bag of Dorit – "
Trip turned to find Malcolm standing well inside his personal space.
"I'm not interested in your crisps, Commander," Malcolm said, twisting that last word into something… else. Placing his palm flat against Trip's chest, with his free hand, Malcolm slid the Doritos from Trip's grasp and lightly tossed them onto the nearest chair.
"You're not," Trip answered, not a question. He gulped, heart suddenly racing. Malcolm's hand felt like fire, even through the cloth of his shirt.
"Nor in your beer," Malcolm added with a sly smile, taking the bottles from him and placing them on the floor.
Trip's mouth finally caught up with the situation. "What are you interested in?" he asked, voice coming out a bit breathless.
"You're an engineer," Malcolm said, coming in close. He whispered the rest, "I'll let you do the analysis."
Right, Trip thought, as everything came crystal clear. "Listen, I know it's laundry day," he said, trailing his hand down Malcolm's chest. "If I were to ask you to get out of this uniform, would you have anything to wear that's more comfortable, maybe less zippers?"
"No," Malcolm said with what Trip thought was one of the most evil grins he'd ever seen.
Trip, always up for a challenge, matched Malcolm's smile and said, "Good." And with that, Trip couldn't help but kiss him. After all, as an engineer, he'd done the analysis.
Thanks for reading this. Hope you enjoyed!