Disclaimer: I don't own Enterprise, it belongs ParaMount.

Chapter 3

Water was rushing over his head and he couldn't see. The murky liquid filled his lungs as he tried to breathe. The suction pulled him deeper, ruining his efforts to get to the surface and to draw in oxygen. It felt as if someone was holding him down and he couldn't escape. Malcolm was drowning. Before he lost consciousness, it felt like something bit him. The pain went numb as the world spun and he couldn't remember anything else. He was going to die by drowning, just like in his nightmares as a child.

Malcolm sat up quickly, letting the fear pour out of him. Everything was silent and the lighting was low. He was in sickbay and it must have been the middle of the night. He could hear someone coughing nearby which brought him to more awareness. The lieutenant was not the only person in sickbay at the time. Looking around, he saw that the two beds beside him were occupied by Captain Archer and Commander Tucker. Both were awake and didn't look very well. Jonathan coughed into his arm again, sighing afterwards. It wasn't how the situation normally looked after waking up in sickbay. Malcolm didn't feel any pain and his friends looked like death warmed over.

"Sir?" Malcolm whispered, speaking to Captain Archer.

"Malcolm, it's good to see you awake," Jonathan answered with a smile.

"What's happening right now?"

"Ah, it's good to see you awake Lieutenant," Doctor Phlox greeted, emerging from one of his various hiding places. "You've been out for quite a while."

Trip was up on one elbow, giving his Malcolm a smile between coughing. The doctor quickly insisted that he lay back down, checking the vitals above his bio-bed. Malcolm was now quite confused on what was happened.

"What happened down there after the earthquake?" Malcolm inquired.

"You fell into the water and we jumped in after you didn't come up," Jonathan answered. "Once we got you out of the water, we noticed that…" The captain cleared his throat, suddenly looking uncomfortable.

"Tell him," Trip muttered.

"A creature bit you… right above…" Jonathan attempted to continue.

"There's no need to worry," Phlox added, seeing Malcolm's face of horror. "The creature didn't harm your genitals and I removed the toxin that was in your system. I'd like to monitor you for a few more hours and then you'll be free to return to your quarters for addition rest."

"You're luckier than us," Trip muttered before going into a coughing fit.

Doctor Phlox gave Commander Tucker a sip of water and helped him lie back down. Malcolm was confused. Though he was sure he was full of Phlox's special mixture, he didn't feel terrible. Captain Archer and Trip looked horrible compared to him. He should have been in the worse off. Phlox checked on Jonathan's vitals, giving him a hypo-spray to the neck.

"Why are you here?" Malcolm asked.

"Well, it turns out that there was a microbe in the water that's giving us pneumonia like symptoms. The creature that bit you gave you immunity to the microbe," Trip complained, looking exhausted.

"I'm working on an antidote, based on the toxin that the creature injected into your bloodstream," Phlox answered. "They'll be feeling better in no time. You best get back to sleep now."

Phlox turned the lights down a little lower, pulling the curtain as he prepared to get back to work. Jonathan closed his eyes, trying to hold back a cough.

"It's good to have you back," the captain murmured.

Malcolm closed his eyes, smiling a little. This was an interesting change of circumstances, even though he did get bitten near the genitals.

Doctor Phlox released Malcolm to his quarters the next morning after informing him that he was to rest and come back in the afternoon for a check-up and bandage change. He rested most of the morning, after taking a shower to wash that sickbay smell from his skin. It reminded him of visiting the doctor as a kid, smelling like medicine and sterilization. Malcolm returned in the afternoon, smiling slightly at the sight of Trip and Captain Archer sitting up in their bio-beds, coughing. Phlox was administering medication to both of them as they grimaced.

"Ah, Lieutenant, how are you feeling?" Phlox greeted.

"Better. How are your patients?"

"I've developed a cure to their respiratory illness and they'll be free to leave tomorrow. I'd like to monitor them for a little longer. You're welcome to visit with them before I check your wound."

Blushing, Malcolm approached his superiors with a grin on his face. Trip gave him a smile as he walked over. Captain Archer coughed into his hand, blinking feverish eyes.

"How are you feeling?" Jonathan inquired.

"I'm fine, sir."

"How're the family jewels?" Trip teased. "You should have seen the captain. He was gonna poke a stick at the creature. Can't imagine what that might have done if he missed."

"Well… I'm glad that he didn't have to impale the creature so close to…" Malcolm cleared his throat, looking around uncomfortably. "I actually wanted to apologize for putting your lives in danger because of my fall into the water. You didn't have to jump in to rescue me."

Trip suppressed a laugh, getting a glare from Malcolm. "Of course we had to jump in to save you. You'd do the same for us. Besides, who else could keep Muller and the others in check? They'd be blowing up half the ship without you. Captain Archer might have a mutiny if we left you in that murky swamp."

Malcolm nodded, showing his thanks without words. Phlox came over at that moment, ready to change Malcolm's bandage. The man blushed, hanging his head as the doctor ushered him behind a curtain. It was quick and painless. Phlox announced that it would heal nicely, not leaving any scar. He suggested that Malcolm get some more rest and return one more time for him to check it out. Phlox moved the curtain back and Mr. Reed prepared to head to the mess hall for something to eat before retiring to his quarters to read and relax. Trip wasn't quite ready to let him leave without a little teasing.

"Hey, Phlox… can I ask you a medical question?" Trip asked with a funny look on his face.

"Of course, Commander."

"It's about size…"

"Ah, would this be a question regarding human male's fascination with size, more commonly called penis envy?"

All the blood drained from Malcolm's face as Trip burst out laughing. Jonathan covered his face with his hand, barely concealing his smile. The Denobulan seemed unaffected by the content of the question and Malcolm silently prayed that he wouldn't use his phrase about watching. He wasn't even sure if he wanted to hear the answer to Trip's question.

"I'm afraid I cannot answer that question Commander," Phlox responded calmly. "I don't have a clear basis for comparison. You'll have to live with the idea of not knowing."

Malcolm walked to the doors of sickbay, completely embarrassed that Trip had asked that question. His friend was still laughing to himself as Phlox encouraged him to lie back down so not to agitate his condition further. Jonathan was saying something to him that Malcolm couldn't hear and wasn't sure he wanted to hear. Stopping in front of the door, he smiled and turned around.

"Trip," he said with laughter in his voice.

Trip looked over at him, confused.

"Just in case you were wondering, there's no competition. You wouldn't win."

The engineer's jaw dropped slightly before he started laughing along with Jonathan. Phlox gave one of his huge creepy smiles.

"Umm… good to know," Trip returned.

"Don't mention it," Malcolm answered and turned to quickly leave sick bay before Trip could ask any more questions.


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