"Laced with metaphor"

Summary: Malcolm thinks about something Trip said in the Shuttlepod and about what the experience has done to him while trying to finish a report.

Warnings: mild slash

Spoilers: Shuttlepod One: didn't see it, won't get it. Also mentions intimate details from Minefield, didn't see it, you'll still get it, but you might be mildly surprised.

Author's Note: Can be read as a standalone or tandem to "Invested Time". Your choice. Cross posted to LJ.

"I'll have you know that Superman was laced with metaphor - subtext layered on subtext."

Subtext, that was a funny concept. "The implicit meaning or theme in a literary text" or the more popular, "reading in between the lines". Malcolm could never claim to have cared for subtext outside of classical literature. In relationships he tended to miss it completely, and it inevitably lead to the demise of said relationships.

Malcolm liked to think of himself as a good person, nice fellow to be around, a strong shoulder to lean on. He'd never managed to think of himself as a good partner, or a particularly good friend. Granted, he was more open now, tight quarter's having made him open up a bit, but getting close had always been a problem. Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker had been doing a fair job of changing that.

Malcolm set his data pad down and rubbed at his eyes after realizing he'd read the same line twelve times. How exactly was he to explain what happened on that shuttle craft? He'd manage to delete his little 'log' before anyone had gotten around to listening to it, but that only meant explaining things in a report. How did one strip the emotion out of such an emotional experience in order for it to appear impartial? He was having a little trouble figuring that one out.

It had been so hard there at the end. He'd been almost completely fine with the idea of dying on the shuttlepod after the initial freak out, but there at the end, swallowing down the bourbon, Commander Tucker's shoulder against his… there were a lot of things he'd started to regret.

While Malcolm would like to claim it'd been the scariest experience of his life, he couldn't; they'd at least been dry out there in space. But it had told him a lot about himself. A lot that he hadn't really wanted to know.

He picked up the data pad again and rubbed his temple. How do you accurately convey the silences, the fear, the cold… the terror at realizing your lifeline was about to suffocate himself in the life lock, to save you. You. A single person, whom he had no reason to be acting so selflessly over…

Commander Charles Tucker, or Trip as he liked to be called, had wanted to throw himself in the airlock to die so Malcolm would have a fighting chance. How does one convey the gratitude, the selfish fear of being left alone, the… the what, exactly? What Malcolm was feeling toward Trip had gone beyond gratitude.

At the end, with too much bourbon in his system and too much fear clouding his judgment, Malcolm had desperately needed someone there with him at the end. One last companion, one last friend. Despite his trouble with getting close to people (or perhaps because of it), Malcolm hated the idea of dying alone.

The bourbon had, naturally, skewed his judgment and lowered his inhibitions enough to say and do things that would have never been said or would have never occurred under normal circumstances.

These were things that couldn't go into the report, of course.

Metaphors were another thing that Malcolm didn't much appreciate outside the realm of literature. They could be so easily misconstrued. And they were hard to think up in the early hours of what passed for morning in space. What would be a good metaphor for his and Trip's relationship? The metaphor would have to be able to convey how confused and strange and difficult it all was. Actually, it was a bit like putting two Beta's in the same fish tank. Malcolm had seen someone do this once. A large full grown male and a smaller male had been put in a display tank together because the owner hadn't known about the fish's violent tendencies. It all would have been just fine if the smaller fish had pretended to be a girl. It would have survived in any case, but it thought it ought to be the dominant one in the tank and had gotten shredded to bits for it's trouble.

Malcolm wasn't sure whether Trip was the Big fish or he was.

But at the same time they were like a pair of penguins. Malcolm remembered there having been a big to-do about a documentary that had shown two male penguins that had paired when one of them had dropped its egg on the ice. Together they'd protected the surviving egg, and then the hatchling until the mother came back with food and they could get away to finally eat. The male whose egg had survived hadn't made the journey to the fishing hole and its partner had died trying, apparently, to wake it up.

Malcolm wasn't sure whether it was his egg that had died or Trips, but he was rather hoping that this wouldn't end in them dying for each other. One scare had been enough.

It probably wouldn't have been a bad way to die though. Sitting with a friend and an empty bottle of bourbon. Of course it had been very cold. On the off chance he was ever forced to do it over again though, he was going to damn well make sure that the two of them got over their manliness and huddled together for warmth. The alcohol had been good, but body heat would have been better.

How do you convey the sudden realization that you now have more than a friend in a man that you once thoroughly disliked? How do you explain how, if you were going to have to die with someone, you really rather hoped it'd be him? How do you accurately report the way his gaze made your heart stop in those last few moments before the blackness and then the sickbay?

Malcolm started his report for the third time, confident that he wouldn't have any trouble this time around.

It was simple really.

You lie.

I like slash. Can you tell? Review please.