Title: Unexpected Reply

Author: DebC

E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com

Feedback: yes, please. It fuels me.

Rating: G

Codes: S/R

Keywords: Reed/Hoshi friendship, sequel to "Break in the Silence"

Summary: Reed receives a reply from his mother, with some unexpected inquiries

Archiving: Since I don't know where the archives are, please ask me first. Thanks.

Disclaimers: Enterprise belongs not to me, but to Star Trek and Paramount. I created nothing... wrote nothing (except this), and am getting paid nothing for this story.

Author's Notes: Thanks to http://www.trekweb.com/ for the episode info (such as Malcolm's sister's name), feathers for the beta reading, and Marianne, Julie and Christina for the support and late night chats.

"Unexpected Reply"



"Lieutenant, wait!"

Malcolm halted halfway to the turbo lift. "Ensign," he responded professionally, but with a slight smile. Ever since his birthday, he'd been warming up to his female coworker. "Something I can help you with?"

"No," Hoshi replied, "something I can help *you* with, actually."

"Yes?"

"A transmission came for you today--from home." Here she paused, as if trying to gauge his reaction. "I transferred it to the computer in your quarters."

The news shocked Malcolm. He hadn't expected to hear back from his parents at all, let alone this soon after transmitting his own letter. "T-thank you," came his stuttered response, the only one he could give at the moment.

Hoshi seemed to sense that he was nervous and reached out, touching his arm with her gentle hand. "Why don't you go see what it says?" she suggested.

*~*~*~*



Malcolm fidgeted as the computer loaded his transmission. He was almost afraid to open it. What had they said? How had they reacted to his own message to them? Then the words came up on the screen.

::Dearest Malcolm::

It was from mum. He'd know her letters anywhere; they always started the same way.

::We were very surprised to her from you. It has been so long since the last time. I was beginning to worry a tad.::

You could have contacted me yourself, in that case, Malcolm thought, bitterness rising in his throat. He shut his eyes, willing the sorrowful memories to go away. Yes, she could have sent him a kind word or two, but again, he could have as well.

::I'm glad you did, you know. Your father would have let the years slip by without so much as a word to you, no matter how much I might want to hear from you. But there's no arguing with a Reed man, dear. You know that as well as I.::

Malcolm sighed deeply. What his mother did not say--nor need to--was that the women of the Reed family never went out of their way to contradict their husbands. Their duty was to stand by their men, making their lives pleasant by squashing their own needs, and ensure that the Royal Navy had happy, healthy Reeds for its ships. And, of course, to give birth to more Reed men and raise them in the same grand tradition.

Malcolm wondered if mum had even bothered to tell his father she was writing him back. More likely she had not, he thought as he continued to read her chatty message. It spoke of the weather at home, aunts and uncles and cousins he barely knew or cared about, and places he hadn't been in years.

Then something caught his attention.

::I spoke to your sister the other day. She made mention of a "nice young lady" (her words dear) who contacted her from your ship. Said the girl was asking questions about you. Personal questions. I was wondering, dear, is there something about this woman we should know?::

Malcolm's eyes bugged out in horror. 'Good Lord!' he thought. 'They think... Hoshi and I... good Lord!'

::Because if there is, you should know it's okay to tell us. You would be the first Reed in history to bring home a bride he met on-duty. Your grandfather met Nana Reed that way, as you might recall.::

Yes, he recalled, Malcolm thought. Or rather, he recalled the story he'd only heard a million times while growing up.

He closed out the transmission, saving it in a computer file for future use. He'd be expected to reply, after all, now that the silence between them had been broken. At the moment, however, he was too flummoxed to write back.

*~*~*~*

The door chimed, sounding the approach of someone to Lt. Reed's quarters. "Malcolm.... it's Hoshi," came her voice and Malcolm winced. He'd hoped to avoid Hoshi by staying away from the galley at dinner. He couldn't face her knowing that she would likely ask what his letter had said.

"Malcolm... may I come in? I brought your dinner."

His stomach growled angrily at the thought of food and Malcolm grudging gave her permission to enter.

Hoshi came in pulling a dining cart behind her. Atop it sat a covered platter, from which emanated the heavenly smell of warm beef and steamed vegetables. "I hope you don't mind," Hoshi told him. "But when you didn't join us for dinner, I thought you might have forgotten." She gave him a pointed look. "It was good news, I hope?" she asked, meaning his transmission from home.

Malcolm nodded slowly. "It was nothing special. Just a letter from my mum." He reached to remove the cover, revealing a delicious selection of food. He helped himself to some hot roast beef slices and drizzled gravy overtop.

Hoshi took his cue and served herself. Soon, they were eating and chatting about their workday. Malcolm hoped this would keep their conversation away from his transmission. Unfortunately, he had no such luck.

"So," Hoshi asked as the meal wound down. "what did your mom have to say?"

Swallowing the last of his food--and the lump that had risen in his throat at her inquiry--Malcolm began telling her about the letter. He highlighted his mother's familial anecdotes for her, careful to avoid any mention of his mother and sister's wild ideas.

"It was really a short letter, but I got the idea she was happy I wrote," Malcolm finished.

"Are you?" Hoshi asked, eyeing him sincerely.

"Am I what?"

"Happy you wrote? Because I get the feeling you're holding something back." Her expression was one of genuine concern for him. Malcolm felt a little guilty.

"Well... it's nothing..." he stammered. "Mum told me she spoke to Madeline the other day."

"Madeline?"

"My sister," Malcolm prompted at Hoshi's brief confusion.

"Oh! Oh yeah! I remember her."

"Apparently she remembers you, as well," came Malcolm's cryptic reply.

"Uhoh. Why do I have the feeling that's not a good thing?"

Malcolm sighed. He really hadn't wanted to tell her, but Hoshi was rapidly becoming the one person he trusted enough to be open with. He knew now if he didn't come clean with her, she'd know it somehow. "She and Mum think... they think... " God but this was hard. Looking at her he found he couldn't bring himself to say it aloud.

"Yes? They think what? That we're lovers or something?" Hoshi spurred him on, a smile playing across her face, which quickly disappeared when Malcolm nodded shamefully. Her mouth formed a small "o" of surprise. "Oh, Malcolm..." she said at last.

"Yeah, I know..."

"What did you tell them?" she asked.

"I... haven't written back yet. I don't quite know to say to something like that," he told her. He saw the worry in her eyes and added "I honestly have no idea hat made them think--"

"I do," Hoshi's soft voice stopped him.

"You do?"

"Yeah..." here she paused to look him straight in the eye. "If you'd called my parents looking for details of my life, I'd never hear the end of it." She smiled slyly at him, lightening the suddenly somber mood.

"And just what would you tell your parents if our situations were reversed?" asked Malcolm, also beginning to smile for the first time since the transmission had come.

"I'd tell them the truth," Hoshi stated matter-of-factly. "That you're," she smiled at him again "my friend."

Malcolm laughed suddenly. "Why didn't I think of that?"

Hoshi shrugged as she gathered up the cart and headed for the door. "Maybe it was too obvious?"

"Maybe," Malcolm echoed soberly, following her. "Thanks, Hoshi," he said as he stopped at the door. Without thinking about it, he leaned in to kiss her cheek gently. "You're the best."

(end)