Disclaimer: Star Trek (plus all its intellectual property) is owned by Paramount. No infringement intended.
Please note that this story contains some mildly adult material.
Beta'd by VesperRegina, to whom all due thanks!
Jonathan Archer was in the middle of a deeply confusing dream about trying to convince a Tellarite delegation to make sherry trifle in the Mess when he was roused by an almost hysterical chief engineer shaking him by the shoulders so hard he almost fell out of bed.
"Jon, wake up! Ya gotta wake up!"
"'Swrong? Trip?" He hadn't had nearly enough sleep to get his thoughts straight. Nevertheless the urgency in his friend's voice went straight to his suprarenal glands, bypassing his brain so that even before he unglued his eyes his blood was pumping adrenaline around his system. He sat up in bed, shaking his head in the vain hope that this might help him get some kind of a handle on the situation. "Trip, what's up?"
"I was kidnapped!"
The side light was on in his room. It was more than sufficient to show him the other man, partly dressed, disheveled, flushed and agitated.
"You were what?" A grimace of pure bewilderment creased his face. "Who by? And how did you get away?"
"It was – it was her! An' they tied me up –." Trip thrust forward his hands, palms uppermost. They were certainly not tied now.
The captain peered at them. Looked closer, frowning.
"Trip, I can't see a mark on them."
The engineer himself looked down at his wrists. There was indeed not a single crease on them. If the situation hadn't been so surreal, and so potentially serious, the amazement on his face would have been comical.
"Jon, they were – they were bleedin'! I felt it!"
Archer felt the knots in his stomach begin to loosen. He ran a weary hand over his face. He'd had Tellarites and sherry trifle, Trip'd had a kidnapping. Whatever the Siurh-halla had put in that punch, he was going to make sure none of the landing party had any more before they left. For one thing, Travis was going to have a hell of a hangover in the morning – later on this morning, he amended to himself.
"Trip, you were dreaming," he said tiredly. "Go back to bed."
"I WAS NOT GODDAMN DREAMING!" bawled Trip.
"Shut the hell up before you wake the whole place!" Tiredness flared into annoyance too quickly. "So if you were kidnapped, Trip, how and by whom, and how come you're in my room without a mark on you after nobody even noticed you were gone?"
"I – she –." He ripped his shirt open, checking his torso frantically. There wasn't so much as a graze on that either. "Jon, it was real! It happened, I swear to God it did!" He looked desperately at his chronometer. "Two hours! I swear to God, it wasn't that long – they must'a knocked me out!"
"Trip, you've been asleep. In bed. Dreaming. It was just really vivid, that's all." With a superhuman effort he kept hold of his temper; he could remember a few occasions himself when reality had been less real than a dream he'd woken up from. "Now go back in there and settle down. You must have been worn out, you were so tired you probably just lay straight down on the bed and nodded off."
"I – did – not – go – to – sleep – at – all," hissed Trip. "As soon as I went in there they were waitin' for me. Four of 'em! And they took me to this place, and she was there..."
"And she took all your clothes off and you had amazing sex." Archer interrupted him ruthlessly. It didn't take much imagination to work out where this particular dream had come from, and he certainly didn't want to hear the gory details. "I'll be envious in the morning, Trip. Right now I'm too damned tired. Go back to bed." And he lay down again, hoping that his friend would take the hint if he wouldn't take orders.
"I'm gonna check Travis and Hoshi."
The captain sat up again. This was starting to feel like a worse dream than the one with the Tellarites and the sherry trifle. "If they file charges I'll put it on your report!"
"You can set it to goddamn music and sing it to Admiral Gardiner if you like – I'm gonna check!"
Groaning words that were really not in keeping with the standards expected of his rank, Archer crawled out of bed and pulled on his boxer shorts. After a moment's thought he pulled on his pants as well. Travis wouldn't be so much of a problem (in the unlikely event that the invasion of his room woke him) but Hoshi was a different issue. With her super-sensitive hearing she might be awake already, disturbed by Trip's bellowing. It would just about put the icing on the cake having two officers in a state of advanced indecency opening her bedroom door. The days were long gone when she freaked out at the drop of a decaying corpse, but even so he wasn't about to add more to her problems than he could help. And besides, he owed something to his own dignity in front of a junior officer.
"So help me God, Trip, this had better not be a joke."
"Cap'n, I swear to God, there is somethin' really wrong here. I just wanna make sure the others are okay."
Very quietly they opened the door to Travis's room. The light was ample to show them his strongly-built frame sprawled across the sheets. His breathing was reassuringly slow and even.
"Well, he seems fine," said the captain in a low voice as they shut the door again. "But we'll be lucky if we get away with it with Hoshi."
With agonizing care they opened the door and peeped inside, intending to take no more than the briefest glance to make sure she was safely and soundly sleeping where she ought to be.
She was certainly sleeping, and superficially safe. But it was immediately obvious that her sleep was anything but restful. She was tangled in the sheets, jerking like a marionette. Small choked whimpering noises broke from her throat.
"She's havin' a nightmare," whispered Trip.
"Just like the one you had, I guess," snapped Archer under his breath. "But I think she needs waking from this one."
"Jon, you're not supposed to..."
He knew perfectly well that perceived wisdom said that one shouldn't wake a person from a bad dream, but by the noises Hoshi was making she'd probably be damn grateful to be rescued from whatever was happening to her now.
He switched the lights on so that on waking she'd see immediately that it was just him and Trip, and that she was absolutely safe. Then he walked over to the bed. She looked pitifully small and vulnerable in the middle of it. Her skin was damp with sweat, her hair tangled from where she'd been tossing her head on the pillow.
"Hoshi. Hoshi, wake up. You're having a dream."
She didn't respond. Her lips moved, but no sound came out. He pulled up a discarded sheet and draped it over her so that she'd feel less uncomfortable with her rather exposed state when she woke up, then placed a hand on her shoulder and shook her – at first gently, then with more vigor, calling her name again as he did so.
After perhaps thirty seconds – a seemingly endless thirty seconds – her eyes flew open and she jerked upright. She screamed out, "They're hurting him!", and then she burst into tears.
"Hoshi, it's just a dream!" Instinctively he put his arms around her, and she cuddled up to him, sobbing. Right at that moment, Starfleet regulations seemed irrelevant. He awkwardly tried to keep the sheet wrapped around her too. At the moment she didn't seem to know or care that she was showing more than was strictly proper, but when she woke up fully and realized what was going on, she might be embarrassed.
"Jon, you're not gonna tell me this is a coincidence!"
"Oh, for God's sake! We've all been dreaming, that's all. We don't know what sort of things they put in the food. Maybe they have some kind of hallucinogenic effect on humans. I'm not going to raise the place just because two of my staff have had nightmares!"
"It's not a dream, it's not," Hoshi sobbed into his shoulder. "They're hurting Malcolm. He's screaming!"
"Hoshi!" He pushed her to arms' length and stared into her face. "Malcolm? Did you hear him when you were asleep? Can you hear him now?"
"It wasn't like that!"
"Then tell me what it was like."
She pushed her disheveled hair back off her face and fought visibly for control. "I was there. I saw him."
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