The Dangers of Popcorn

Summary: Trip and Malcolm have created a surprise for the Halloween party. It just doesn't go how it should. My entry to "Wasn't It a Grand Explosion Month".

Author: Emiliana Keladry

Disclaimer: Enterprise belongs to ParaMount, not me.

Time period: Set during the 2nd season, pre Xindi attack

Pairings: Slight R/S (yes, Poohdog, I tried not to - but I couldn't help it :) )

Author's note: This is my addition to "Wasn't It a Grand Explosion" month! It also works as a piece about Halloween, which is my favorite holiday. Please enjoy and leave a review! Thanks!

"I can't believe that you made that," Ensign Hoshi Sato laughed.

"What is the purpose of this device?" T'Pol inquired.

"Did you never go anywhere while on you were on Earth?" Commander Tucker asked.

T'Pol and Hoshi were focused on the newest addition to the mess hall that Trip and Lieutenant Reed had been working on in their spare time. It was a functioning popcorn machine, complete with red sign and the smell of warm buttery popcorn. The place where the hot oil would cook the kernels was waiting for popcorn to be added. They had been working on it in secret for two weeks now and today was the day that they would finally get to try it. It was October 31st and Captain Archer thought that the crew could use some fun, and at last agreed to allow a Halloween party. The quartermaster had been working on costumes for the crew and Chef was cooking pumpkin pie and he'd somehow discovered how to make candy corn. The whole ship smelled delicious and Halloween decorations had appeared around the ship. Two crew members had decided that hanging a giant spider from Captain Archer's doorway was extremely funny and Trip couldn't stop flashing the picture of Jonathan's face around the ship when he wasn't looking.

"It's an authentic popcorn machine for movie night," Trip announced.

"It's our wonderful surprise," Malcolm agreed as Trip elbowed him gently in the side.

"Are you sure that this will function?"

Hoshi burst out laughing at the Vulcan's straight face.

"Do you have such little faith in us?"

Malcolm joined Hoshi in laughing. Trip gave T'Pol a big grin and returned to polishing the glass with his rag. The group split up to get ready for the evening. Malcolm left his friend in charge of making sure that the popcorn machine was covered up and ready for tonight. It was only an hour before the Halloween party began and it was time to get into costume. Each crew member had been given a random outfit to wear that they weren't allowed to open until it was time to get dressed. Malcolm had been dreading the costume that he would be given. He stepped into the shower to get clean from his long day in the armory. After spending a long time letting his muscles relax in the shower, he got out and dried off. Butterflies fluttered in his stomach for some unknown reason.

"Oh great," Malcolm muttered as he opened the package.

It was a pirate costume, complete with long blue jacket, silky pale blue shirt that didn't button all the way up, white pants, and brown shoes. Malcolm couldn't believe it; that he was supposed to wear this in front of his crew members. He was no pirate. Grumbling softly, he pulled the outfit on and prepared to arrive at the mess hall early.

Walking down the corridor, Malcolm saw a hotdog, horse, and a nun. He smiled as they laughed at his costume. Maybe it wouldn't be that bad. Nothing could be worse than a nun talking to a hotdog and a horse; something not usually seen in society without a mental problem. He pressed the button to the mess hall and slipped in the door. The lieutenant paused for a moment, looking around in awe. White spider webs were strung around the room with plastic spiders clinging to them. There was a large rub of water filled with apples and a pan of caramel apples on the table. Dishes of candy corn were sitting next to a line of delicious smelling pumpkin pies. Malcolm grinned, looking around the mess hall for Mr. Tucker. A cowboy, complete with hat and spurs, was tinkering with the popcorn machine and Malcolm walked over to him.

"Well… arrrrgh Pirate Malcolm! Howdy," Trip greeted, tipping his hat.

"That is a nice fit Trip," Malcolm teased. "I already pegged you as a cowboy."

"Ha ha… can you hand me that micro-spanner?"

Malcolm passed his friend the tool and watched a few crew members finish setting up the chairs for the movie.

"What movie is playing tonight, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, or some other American horror movie?" the pirate inquired.

"Nah, Captain Archer picked the movie."

Trip continued to tinker with the machine, leaving Malcolm waiting for more explanation of what the movie was called and what it was about.

"He picked Hocus Pocus, a 1993 movie with Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker. It's about three wicked witches from Salem, Oregon that come back to life when a teenage boy lights the black flame candle. There's also some cat that never can die and a little girl and a teenage girl that the boy likes. It's fun, but not exactly my choice of movie."

"That definitely redefines classic movie," the lieutenant joked.

"I know… a family movie from the late 20th century? I guess that's what we get for hanging a spider from the ceiling and having him freak out."

They both laughed and Trip returned to finishing the popcorn machine.

"Is this thing going to work tonight?" Malcolm asked. "We've been working on it for weeks now. It would be embarrassing for it to fail to make popcorn. Chef would have to make some and he's already done so much."

"Good point and we'd also be laughed at by Travis and Hoshi. They doubt that we can do something without disaster."

"It's true," said a voice behind Malcolm.

He turned around and face-to-face with a scarecrow and a little flying monkey. Captain Archer laughed at his expression and gave Porthos a scratch behind his little ears. Trip burst out laughing and slapped his knee.

"You have no brain Captain, but you have a flying monkey," Trip howled.

Some of the other crew members covered smiles behind their hands.

"Apparently the crew thinks I don't have a brain and would make a nice scarecrow. Porthos does make a cute flying monkey though." He looked closely at Malcolm and smiled. "You look very threatening Lieutenant."

"Thank you Captain."

"So, is this machine going to work Trip?" Jonathan asked, the second time the question had been asked in five minutes.

"Of course Captain."

The doors to the mess hall opened again, admitting a fairy and a Vulcan. Malcolm saw T'Pol approach and he noticed that she wasn't wearing a costume, just her usual uniform.

"No costume?" Trip asked, seeing her lack of creativity.

"I do not understand the point of this holiday and I turned down the offer of a costume. I simply wanted to wish you all a Happy Halloween, since that is the customary phrase of the evening."

"Happy Halloween T'Pol; let me take you over the table and introduce you to some wonderful treats," Jonathan chuckled.

The two walked over to the dessert table as Malcolm helped Trip get the popcorn machine started. They waited anxiously for a moment before it started to warm up and white pieces began to fall. More crew members began to arrive and enjoy the treats. Travis began to bob for apples, dressed as a traditional fire-fighter with no coat on and his muscles rippling. A fake axe was hanging from his belt. It was amazing the work that the quartermaster and his crew did for a holiday party. Malcolm soon realized that Hoshi was missing. Just as he went to page her, the door to the mess hall admitted a beautiful princess in a sparkly blue dress, holding a silver wand with a star on the top and wearing a sparkling tiara in her hair. Hoshi blushed when she saw Malcolm's gaze.

"You look…"

"Silly," Hoshi filled in with a laugh.

"No, you look very beautiful."

Hoshi hung her head as her cheeks became stained with red. "Thank you Lieutenant."

"Call me Malcolm tonight, Princess."

"Alright Pirate Malcolm," she giggled.

"Shall we get some popcorn?"

He offered her his arm and guided her over to the popcorn machine. They sat together and Trip came to join them with Porthos in tow. Jonathan plopped down next to them with T'Pol and the movie began. All of the crew enjoyed the movie, laughing along with the three witches and talking cat Thackery Binx. The song "I Put a Spell on you" almost brought Trip to tears from laughing so hard and Malcolm could have sworn that T'Pol gave the commander an evil glare. The movie ended and the party continued. Jonathan was attempting to convince T'Pol to bob for apples. Malcolm was sitting and talking to Travis and Hoshi when it happened. The popcorn machine made a funny noise and suddenly popcorn stopped coming out. No one really noticed it except for Trip, Malcolm, and others. The rest of the crew continued to party. Malcolm was closest and proceeded to check and see if it turned off.

"Want some help Mal?" Trip asked.

"No, I think I can figure it out."

Malcolm leaned over and opened the electrical panel. It appeared to be functioning correctly. Maybe some popcorn got jammed into the oil container. He opened up the glass door and began to open the oil place carefully. There was suddenly a loud explosion and Malcolm went flying backwards, slamming into the deck plating. The last thing he remembered was someone screaming his name.

Ouch. Every part of his body was throbbing and he was sure that he felt something wrapped around his right hand. The familiar smell of sick bay entered Malcolm's nostrils before he was fully aware that he was lying on the hard bio-bed. He opened his eyes and the room spun quickly, causing him to snap his eyes closed again. For a moment he thought that he was standing in some strange fairytale, having seen a scarecrow, cowboy, a Vulcan, and a princess hovering near him. It must have been a hallucination. There was a soft noise and he knew that he wasn't alone. Why is it always me? Malcolm pondered, trying to regain his bearings and stop his stomach from flip-flopping.

"How are you feeling?" Phlox's voice asked somewhere above him. "You took quite a nasty bump on the head."

"Wasn't it a grand explosion?" Malcolm muttered, feeling light-headed.

Someone, he assumed was Trip, attempted to cover a laugh.

"I'm going to give you some more painkillers. Can you open your eyes for me, Lieutenant?" the doctor requested.

He felt the slight prick at his neck and the analgesics enter his bloodstream. Malcolm opened his eyes slowly, and this time the room didn't move. Trip was standing beside his bed, still in costume and helped him sit up on the reclined bed. Captain Archer was there, along with Hoshi and T'Pol. Lifting his right hand, he saw a bandage covering the skin. It didn't hurt, but he knew it was Phlox's magic drugs. After realizing that he was still dressed as a pirate, only his shirt was all the way unbuttoned, he saw that he also had a bandage on his chest. His fingers slowly found the smaller band-aids on his face.

"What exactly happened?" Malcolm asked, closing his eyes again to fight the dizziness.

"Well… in your words, it was a grand explosion," Jonathan responded. "Your popcorn machine became jammed and the pressure caused it to explode."

"You have second degree burns on your chest and hand, and minor cuts on your face from the glass breaking. You should be feeling better in a few days. I'd like to keep you here overnight for observation. You have a mild concussion," Phlox relayed, monitoring the changes on the monitor over Malcolm's bed.

"It really was grand…" Hoshi muttered, smiling softly.

Malcolm opened his eyes for a moment and smiled at her. "Did I ruin the party?"

"I think it was almost over anyway," she answered.

"Pirate Reed needs to get some rest," Phlox announced.

"Get some rest, Malcolm," Captain Archer said. "You'll need your strength to clean up that mess in the mess hall in the morning."

"Yes sir, Captain."

T'Pol and Captain Archer exited sick bay quietly as Jonathan laughed under his breath. "Dangerous popcorn," he muttered. Trip came up close to his friend and put a hand on his shoulder. He couldn't wipe the grin from his face. Hoshi stepped closer and Malcolm could hear her dress whispering on the floor.

"I'll let you get some sleep," Trip agreed. "See ya in the morning Mal."

The cowboy slowly walked from sick bay, leaving the pirate along with the princess.

"Does it hurt?" Hoshi asked, coming up close to the bed and laying her hands on it.

"It's not a problem. I don't feel anything actually."

"I'm sure you will tomorrow. You'll have some nice bruises."

Malcolm nodded, feeling too tired to keep talking anymore. Phlox started to pull the curtain around Malcolm's bed and gave him a pair of sick bay pajamas that would be more comfortable. The doctor nodded at Hoshi and gave them another moment of privacy. Hoshi leaned in quick and kissed Malcolm on the cheek.

"The princess kissing the frog," the man muttered, smiling at her.

"More like the princess kissing the pirate," Hoshi whispered. "Good night Malcolm. Happy Halloween."

"Happy Halloween Hoshi."

She turned slowly and excited sickbay. Malcolm picked up the pajamas and smiled at her. It was a grand explosion, but it had a nice ending. Even if the princess kissed the pirate and the popcorn machine exploded, it was a good Halloween.

Thanks for reading! Please review! And as a side note: Hocus Pocus is my favorite Halloween movie and I recommend it if you like this holiday and some great family fun movie! Not really a horror movie, but wonderful and hilarious!


P.S. Happy Halloween!