Chapter 8 - Explanations

"So yer saying I tried to shoot ya?" Trip asked. He leaned
forward in the chair that had been placed beside Malcolm's bed.

"You sure did," Hoshi said as she approached Malcolm's bed and
perched herself on the edge.

"And that's when you stunned him?" Reed asked. "Guess my target
practice lessons paid off?" He looked smug.

"Well, it did help that I used two hands to hold it and the
target wasn't moving," Hoshi admitted with a smile. "So when do
you get out of here?"

Malcolm opened his mouth, but it was Phlox who responded. "If
Mr. Reed obeys my orders, and doesn't try to overdo, I might be
able to release him tomorrow afternoon."

Trip chuckled. "Has Malcolm been a poor patient?"

"Hey, you'd try and leave too, if you found out he put some kind
of bug in your insides!" the armory office said in his own
defense.

"They were Wohelian Bole Worms, Lt. Reed. They probably even
saved your life."

"And you are sure you removed all of them?"

"My missing bole worm is in sickbay somewhere," Phlox replied.
"I'm sure they were all accounted for when they finished their
task."

Malcolm groaned and clutched his stomach.

"Is this a party?" Captain Archer asked entering Sickbay.

"Just trying to cheer Malcolm up, Cap'n," Trip replied. "I
figure he'll ultimately forgive me for trying to kill 'im."

"Already forgiven, Trip," Malcolm assured his friend. "By the
way, Doctor, how is Sub-commander T'Pol?"

"When I checked her this morning, she was resting comfortably in
her quarters, having just completed her morning meditation. She
seems to be well on the road to recovery."

"That Vulcan bastard," Trip spat. "If I ever lay eyes on him
again, I'll show him a thing of two."

"You won't be the only one," Malcolm vowed. "No one had any idea
of the ulterior motive behind Tolaris' *mind-rape*." Pushing
himself up on the bed into a more comfortable position, the Brit
grimaced when his ribs protested the action.

Hoshi, noticing his discomfort, offered silent encouragement with
a soft smile, then continued with the conversation. "I imagine
it'll take quite some time before we are fully versed in all the
powers and capabilities of the Vulcan race," she noted.

"From what T'Pol told the Doctor, Tolaris planned this for
years," Archer remarked. "Back when Enterprise was just on the
drawing boards, the Lammarins contacted him, and the plan was put
into motion. You can say one thing about them, they were
certainly patient."

"Which is even more of a reason for us all to remain vigilant,"
Reed added. Holding his hand over his mouth, he emitted a huge
yawn.

"That's it, Malcolm, you stay vigilant!" Trip teased. Hoshi and
Archer chuckled.

"Looks like you need your rest, Malcolm. Time for us to be
going," Archer said.

"Well, I do have some calculations I should be running," Malcolm
replied.

"Calculations?" Trip remarked. "Can't you be away from your job,
even for a minute?"

"And you'd behave any differently?" Hoshi asked.

Archer laughed. "You have him pegged, Hoshi," the Captain
conceded. "C'mon, Trip. There's a new vid that I got today.
You want to watch it?"

"A vid?"

"New England Patriots vs. the St. Louis Rams," Archer replied.
"A classic."

"Sounds good. I'll bring the beer and pretzels. Hoshi, wanna
join us?"

Hoshi shook her head. "You two head along, I have a few things
to do."

"But, Hoshi, it's a great ga..."

"If Hoshi says she's not interested, she's not interested,"
Archer interrupted, pushing his friend out the door. "But
Doctor, you might enjoy it."

"But my patient..."

"I'll keep an eye on him," Hoshi promised.

Phlox looked doubtful.

"Shoo, Doctor. Malcolm isn't going anywhere. And if he gives me
any problem, I'll just go get that phase pistol."

It didn't take much to convince the doctor. "Well, Captain, if
you insist. I've always wanted to watch a football game. I've
heard the crew talk about that sport often. Is it true that the
ball they use isn't round?"

"If you talk to an Englishman, it is," Malcolm piped up.

Phlox looked puzzled. "What?"

Trip laughed. "C'mon, Doctor, we have a lot to teach you."

Malcolm and Hoshi smiled as the three men left them behind.

"He's going to be thoroughly confused," Hoshi remarked.

"I'm sure they'll have a good time."

With a sigh, Hoshi sat down on a chair beside Malcolm's bed.
"And you're just stuck with me."

"Actually, I'm very glad you stayed behind. There's been
something I've been meaning to tell you, and I haven't had the
opportunity. There always seems to be so many people around."

"Malcolm?"

The Brit looked into Hoshi's dark eyes, hoping he had the courage
to say what had been on his mind without sounding like a lovesick
fool. "I just wanted to say how much I appreciate what you've
done for me...what you were willing to do..."

"I know you'd have done the same for me."

"It's not that, Hoshi. It's more." Feeling braver, Malcolm
reached out and grasped Hoshi's hand in his own.

Hoshi looked at Malcolm earnestly. Her dark brown eyes pleaded
for him to continue before he lost his nerve.

Malcolm Reed paused for a moment before he continued. "The
Captain told me he ordered you to stay put, but you ignored him.
You risked your own life to help me. No one has ever really done
that for me before. I want you to know how much I appreciate
it."

Not breaking their link, Hoshi moved from her chair to sit on the
edge of Malcolm's bed. "Malcolm, I couldn't let Trip hurt you,
not even if I had to disregard an order from the Captain. It's a
good thing for me, he's not making an issue of it."

Malcolm smiled softly before he again became serious. "I'm very
glad you didn't get in trouble with the Captain. But you could
have gotten killed. Trip had a fully charged weapon set to kill,
and you only had a target phaser. If something had happened to
you...I...I..."

"Sssssh," Hoshi urged. With her free hand, she leaned forward
and placed two fingers over Malcolm's lips. "Sssssh. Nothing
happened. Everything turned out fine." Removing her fingers
from his lips, she trailed them down his cheek feeling his
whisker stubble. "Maybe even better than fine."

Blue eyes looked at her quizzically. "Better than fine?" he
asked hopefully. Easing himself up, he closed the gap between
them. He cupped her face tenderly with his hand.

Leaning into his caress, Hoshi sighed. The sound made Malcolm's
heart soar.

"Where do we go from here, Hoshi?" he asked, his lips almost
touching her own.

"Almost anywhere you want to," she breathed invitingly.

His lips pressed against hers, and she returned the kiss
willingly.


The End.



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