Title: Canine Reasoning
Fandom: Star Trek ENT
Disclaimer: I don't own it, but I do take credit for giving Porthos a voice of his own.
Summary: Contrary to popular belief, life as a dog is not all back scratching and bone chewing. This is the story of a clever prank gone wrong and of a clever dog in for a big surprise. All Porthos wanted to do was to help his master and to get scratched behind the ears by Hoshi. Instead, he has to face unreasonable human mating habits, treachery and a devious foe...
T'Pol hates me.
No, don't try to tell me otherwise, because I know she does. It was true the day we met, and it's still true today. I saw her enter the room, then stop, wrinkle her pretty nose and stare down at me as if I was some slimy bug. Truth be told, she also looked at Jon and Trip as if they were slimy bugs, or at least members of some other inferior life form.
Oh well. I can live with a Vulcan's contempt. Really, I can. They are stuffy, boring and totally not fun anyways.
Problem is, though, that my master can't.
Jon is a great guy, but he can be rather unnerving at times. I mean, I love him, we sort of take care of each other and he feeds me cheese, even though the doctor forbade it, but why does he have to be so damn stubborn? T'Pol doesn't want to be his friend. He could just accept that, leave her alone and be done with it.
But no, he has to make every effort to change her mind.
I'll admit that for a biped, she's rather attractive, and she has some pretty useful skills. She also appears to be the right age for a potential mate, even though I have yet to see her in heat. And I'll admit that the choices are somewhat limited in our flying territory. But still… couldn't he have picked someone else? Hoshi's kind of pretty, too, and she's a lot nicer! I am sure, she would be more likely to come around and mate with him.
The chances for T'Pol agreeing to mate with Jon are very slim. On the other hand, the odds of T'Pol ripping his head off or maiming him in some other way when he approaches her are pretty good.
Jon just doesn't get it.
Not everybody out here wants to be friends with him and his pack. You'd think that after being shot, stabbed, kidnapped, held hostage, nearly killed, beaten and cheated repeatedly, he'd start to realize that you need to be wary of strangers. Especially when entering their territory, because they are very likely to try and defend it against intruders. Even T'Pol could tell him that's logical, although she doesn't really have a good grasp of instinctive behavior.
However, my master can be a thickheaded fool sometimes.
Which is why we are in sickbay right now… again.
At least, both T'Pol and Malcolm Reed seem to agree with me. Good to know that there are some sensible people aboard this ship.
Malcolm is weird. I really can't figure him out. I don't think he hates me like T'Pol does, but I don't get the feeling that he likes me, either. Actually, he doesn't appear to like anybody. Except, maybe Trip. But then, nearly dying in a metal tin floating through space will probably make you get as close as litter mates.
Hoshi comes in to pet me, while Malcolm tries to talk some sense into Jon. Phlox is feeding his stupid bat again. That thing really gives me the creeps. The sounds it makes…! T'Pol just looks bored.
I keep catching bits of the conversation, but Malcolm's overly guarded way of speaking makes it difficult to keep up. I really can't muster that kind of concentration right now, not while Hoshi is scratching my back. Malcolm seems to be arguing, but Jon isn't really listening and tries to dismiss the matter with a smile and a wave of his hand.
I could tell him that won't work. Malcolm's like a bulldog. When he gets his teeth into something, he won't let go of it.
I could tell him. But Hoshi has moved on to my ears now and aaaah, she's good…!
Hoshi, if you ever consider leaving Starfleet, call me about a job as my personal masseuse…
Malcolm is a pretty serious person. One hardly ever sees him crack a smile, and I have yet to see him laugh out loud.
He's especially serious about his work and duties; and those include keeping the ship, the crew and the Captain safe. I wouldn't say that he is protective of Jon, because, you know, that would sound kind of strange. After all, the boss is not his girlfriend. Still, Malcolm's really into the bodyguard thing.
I fully agree with him. When it comes to keeping Jon safe and out of trouble, Malcolm and I are on the same page.
After all, it is a dog's job to keep his master safe, isn't it? That's the real reason all those yappy little Chihuahuas are so frustrated - you can't do much, when you're the size of a rat.
But I digress. Back to Malcolm –
Malcolm, I think, would make a pretty good dog. He reminds me of a German Shepherd sometimes, except his nose isn't as good and the fur doesn't match.
Malcolm insists on accompanying Jon on all away missions. He has more luck than I do, but Jon still ignores him about half the time. It's a good thing that Malcolm rarely shouts, because otherwise those arguments could get rather noisy. When he stands at his station, grey eyes flashing, lips pressed together tightly and emitting tangible waves of discontent, it's pretty obvious though that he hates not getting his way.
Obvious to anyone but my blissfully oblivious master, that is. I know Jon has a frightfully bad sense of smell, but sometimes I'm ready to believe that he was born without eyes and ears as well.
So usually those arguments end with a pouting Malcolm, who can't do anything but wait at his station, keep his weapons at the ready and observe what happens down on the planet. When something actually happens - and as I said, Jon and the others get kidnapped, shot at, hurt or threatened often enough - Malcolm's always the first one to suggest rushing in and blasting the bad guys to the far end of the Universe.
I always admired his sense of duty and his unwavering loyalty to Jon.
At least I did until it dawned on me that maybe there was something else motivating him other than good British upbringing and praiseworthy strength of character...
Have I already mentioned that I adore Hoshi?
Jon aside, she is my favorite person on this ship. She is nice and gentle, she has a pleasant voice, and her hands are magic. She is also really smart, and most importantly, unlike some people she is not oblivious when it comes to other people's feelings.
That's an important quality, and I think that with a little training, she could make a pretty good alpha female. That is, if we could get rid of T'Pol.
So when Jon is busy, I like to stay close to Hoshi and follow her around the ship if she lets me.
Right now, she is having coffee with Travis, who is telling her something about Ensign Whatshername and Dr. Phlox (gee, Travis, if your nose were a bit better, you'd have smelled weeks ago that those two are mating on a fairly regular basis).
Hoshi doesn't look particularly impressed either, probably because she has already known about their relationship for quite a while. I'm just about ready to rest my head on my paws and take a little nap, when things get interesting.
Hoshi looks around, but there is nobody listening in (well, except me) and then bends forward, telling Travis in a quiet voice: "You know, I think Malcolm has a thing for the Captain."
Travis' jaw drops about a foot, and his facial expression is priceless. Good one Hoshi, you really got him there.
Of course, nobody in his right mind would believe that Malcolm is interested in the Captain – romantically interested, or whatever they call it, I mean, because he obviously has a professional interest. Anyway, what Hoshi means is that weird hand-holding, staring and licking each other's faces stuff that humans take so much delight in. They make a big fuss about it, but in the end, it leads to mating. Or at least, that's the ultimate goal.
And there are a number of reasons why Malcolm wouldn't mate with the boss, the most important one being hierarchy. Human society is just like a pack of wolves or dogs, only that it usually encompasses more members. There's the Alphas, Betas, maybe Gammas and Deltas and then there's everybody else. Depending on how you look at it, Jon and T'Pol are the Alphas and Trip is Beta. Or, Jon is the sole Alpha and T'Pol and Trip are Beta. I get the feeling it varies and depends on the situation. In any case, Malcolm is neither Alpha nor Beta. There would be a problem if he tried to mate with Jon, because he would be jumping ranks. I don't think it would go down well with T'Pol and Trip. They might accept Hoshi, because her rank is so low that she poses no threat, but Malcolm…?
Secondly, anything between Jon and Malcolm could only be a short-term thing. A permanent relationship between the two of them would be pointless and even a threat to the survival of the pack. Because no matter how many humans try to tell you otherwise in order to justify their erratic mating behavior, mating essentially is about passing your genes on to the next generation. Malcolm and Jon are both male – so no puppies. No puppies is bad for the pack, because without them, it will eventually cease to exist. You have to think ahead, right?
No puppies, no future.
Therefore no mating between Jon and Malcolm.
It's almost painfully obvious, but it still takes Travis quite some time to realize that Hoshi is pulling his leg. He can be terribly slow sometimes…
"Oh. Now I get it." He says, grinning proudly. "You almost had me there, Hoshi!"
Actually, she had. For two and a half minutes.
I hope humanity's fate will never depend on Travis, because in that case, it'd be doomed.
"I'm not joking."
Yeah right, Hoshi. I can see the twinkle in your eyes. Cut the guy some slack, it's no fun pranking idiots.
"What? Are you serious?! Malcolm and the Captain…?"
Oh, for the sake of my tail, he believes her…! Travis! How can you be so gullible?
"All I'm saying is that Malcolm's always following him around with his eyes and staying kinda close to him" – yes, because that's his job – "and remember last month when that alien life form had wrapped it's tendrils around the Captain we were afraid it would either choke or assimilate him before we could do anything? Malcolm was desperate. I've never seen him in such distress."
Well, might I point out that that thing was trying to eat Jon and a number of our pack mates? If that's no reason to be distressed, then what is?
Travis' eyes have grown very round and he is staring at Hoshi as if a revelation had come upon him. "Oh wow…!"
With a deep sigh, I let my head drop on my paws.
Travis is a hopeless case.
Apparently, Hoshi decided that since her little prank worked so well on Travis, she has to try it on some other people, too. I am going to add "congenial prankster" and "great liar" to the list of her virtues, because by now she has managed to convince about half the crew that Malcolm's in heat and going after Jon.
Humans can be incredibly silly. I'm starting to sympathize with T'Pol here, and that's a first one!
Speaking of which, T'Pol immediately dismissed the silly idea when Hoshi mentioned it to her and told her to get back to work. Hoshi fussed a little about Vulcans being incredibly unworldly, while I silently cheered our uptight first officer. Can't fool her, Hoshi!
Hoshi then moved on to trying to convince Phlox. Not that he needed convincing, mind you. He lapped it up like a cat does with a bowl of cream. (Cats aside, actually, I wouldn't mind a bowl of cream, either.)
Still, one has to be prepared for every eventuality, so I decided to keep a close eye on Malcolm. Just in case, you know? However, tailing him turned out to be one of the most unexciting undercover operations ever undertaken by a canine. Malcolm moves through his life like a robot, he is completely predictable. He does just about the same things at about the same time every day, with very little variation.
Boring, Malcolm. Bo-ring.
See, that's another reason why he and the boss can't mate – it wouldn't fit into Malcolm's daily schedule.
Besides, even though I sniff his clothes and skin very carefully whenever I get close enough, I have yet to detect any signs of Malcolm being… you know, interested in anything but his weaponry.
What's funny, though, is that now everybody is watching Jon and Malcolm rather closely. I wonder when either of them will realize that something's going on, but so far, they remain oblivious. Which is kind of a disappointment, really. I would love to see Malcolm's astonished face when he learns what all the fuss really is about.
Hoshi goes on telling her little story to just about everyone aboard, but when nothing significant happens between the boss and Malcolm for about a month or so, most people begin to dismiss it as what it really is – an unfounded rumor.
I am silently glad, because I really do like Hoshi, and I shudder to think what Malcolm would have done to her, if he'd found out that she was spreading rumors about him. It is much better this way. Quieter, too.
But Hoshi does not seem happy at all. One day we're sitting in the mess hall (actually, I'm not supposed to be here, but nobody cares if I sneak in, they all love me). She's scratching me behind the ears (it feels good) and sighing morosely as she watches the people sitting at one of the neighboring tables.
It's Jon, Trip and Malcolm and they're arguing. Not very heatedly, mind you, they sort of try to keep their voices down, but Hoshi and I both have very good hearing.
It seems that Jon and Trip are somewhat unhappy with something Malcolm said or did and are trying to talk him out of whatever stupid idea he's come up with. Not very successfully, though, because Malcolm being Malcolm, he remains adamant.
"There's no room for discussion," he says, shaking his head and looking about as angry as he ever gets. However, Jon and Trip may not catch this, but I am getting mixed signals from Malcolm. His voice says 'no', but his body language says something else. I can't quite figure it out, but it almost looks as if Malcolm would actually like them to argue with him some more. As if he wanted to be talked out of his decision, whatever it may be.
I wonder if Hoshi noticed it, too. She is unusually perceptive for a human.
"It's completely ridiculous, Malcolm!" Jon protests, sounding startled and maybe even somewhat hurt. Not angry… not yet.
Once again, Malcolm shakes his head. "I have my reasons, Captain. Good reasons."
"I don't doubt that, but try to understand the position you're putting me in. I can't risk losing one of my best officers, not now. I need you, Malcolm. We all need you."
Malcolm smiles faintly. "I thank you for the compliment, sir. But trust me, it is for the better. I will gladly help you find a suitable replacement."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Malcolm! I don't want to replace you!" Jon sounds exasperated, as if he thinks this whole discussion is pretty pointless (it probably is).
"I don't understand it," Trip says, "what's gotten into you all of a sudden? You love this ship and this assignment! You told me so yourself. Why would you want to leave?"
"Trip," Malcolm says, looking as if he had a severe toothache, "It's not about what I want."
"No? What then?"
"It's about what is good for the ship, the crew and the mission."
"You being here with us is good for all three of them," Jon says firmly. "You're the best tactical officer there currently is. It's not just a job to you, it's your calling."
"That's true," Malcolm admits.
"But…?" Trip asks, leaning forward.
Malcolm spreads his hands in an almost helpless gesture. "Under the circumstances…"
"What circumstances?" Jon asks rather sharply.
Malcolm is beginning to look really uncomfortable now, his eyes darting around, trying to figure out if anybody is watching them. Hoshi quickly bends down to pet my back, almost disappearing beneath the table.
"Sir, I don't think we should discuss this in the mess hall…"
"Fine," Jon says, sounding upset, "come to see me in private later."
Now that is one visit from Malcolm that I wouldn't miss for the world, so I rush out of the mess hall as soon as the three of them have left and return to our quarters. I pick a spot from where I can easily see the entire room and lie down on the floor, putting my head onto my paws, pretending to sleep. It's a posture that has never failed to fool humans, and it certainly fools Jon when he comes in.
He walks over, gives me a rather distracted pat on the head and smiles when I just hum drowsily and turn my head to the side. Perfect.
Malcolm keeps us waiting for what seems like a very long time, though. I'm used to waiting, and I'm actually a very patient creature, but the boss is not. He soon grows restless, even agitated. He sits down at his desk to read, then gets up again, paces around the room, picks up his paperwork, puts it down again… it's slightly unnerving.
Finally, Malcolm shows up, his expression even more guarded than usual as he steps into the room.
Jon turns to face him. "So?" He asks. His tone of voice bodes ill.
Matthew starts to nervously tug at his immaculate uniform. He's not so confident now; he probably imagined that this would be easier. (Whatever this is, because I still don't know what his problem is, and does Jon, I believe.)
At length, Malcolm speaks. His voice seems strangely subdued, quieter than usual. "Sir, I did not mean to upset or inconvenience you."
"Well, in that case, you've failed spectacularly," Jon informs him flatly. "Spit it out, Malcolm. Tell me what's wrong and then we can talk about it, but I will not have any rash decisions, especially not when they so gravely affect my ship and my crew."
"I find myself in a very uncomfortable situation, sir," Malcolm says slowly, purposefully avoiding Jon's gaze by staring at the wall. "I realized that I have begun to…" – he's obviously searching for the right words – "… to develop feelings for a crewmate, a fellow officer. Romantic feelings."
Malcolm stands ramrod straight with his hands crossed behind his back, and his face is a pale, unmoving mask. Associating him with the word 'romantic' in any context is about as easy as walking on water.
Jon sucks in his next breath sharply, looking startled. Well, I can hardly blame him. If Malcolm has any kind of feelings for anybody, they must be platonic in nature, because I've smelled nothing so far. That, or he's just exceptionally good at hiding stuff.
"That is… unexpected," Jon finally says.
Malcolm nods gravely.
"Might I ask who?"
Looks as if Malcolm's toothache from earlier today was back… he winces. "Does it matter, sir?" He asks quietly. (What's with the 'sir', by the way? I mean, I know that Malcolm has an authority fetish, but he's usually not that obvious…)
Jon looks at him for a long moment and slowly shakes his head. "No, I suppose it doesn't," he replies with a soft sigh. "Malcolm… I know what you're going through, and I understand your concern, but can I not get you to reconsider…? If the other person knew about it and reciprocated your feelings… Starfleet could hardly object to a relationship between two consenting adults, could it? We are only human, after all…"
But Malcolm shakes his head. "He doesn't… it's not mutual."
Whoa, wait a minute, Malcolm, and back up… seems that Hoshi wasn't that far off, after all!
I can see my master's thoughts dashing in the same direction, can almost see him wondering oh, but who would that be? Trip? Travis? Heavens forbid – Phlox?!
My money is on Trip, to tell you the truth. All that bonding going on in small spaces…? Maybe it triggered some sort of hormonal reaction in Malcolm. If so, Malcolm is right and it's a hopeless cause. Trip has never been confused about the whole male-female thing. He likes his mates pretty, nubile and female.
"I'm sorry, sir," Malcolm says with deep regret.
"Me, too," Jon says, and it's heartfelt. Just then, a whiff of something familiar, something I have been searching for for days tickles my nose. Startled, I raise my head, pointing my sense of smell towards my master. And sure enough, there it is.
Dear Lord of everything that's furry – Hoshi was off only by an inch! Malcolm may have the hots for Trip, but my master desires Malcolm. And quite strongly so, if I'm not mistaken.
Jon, I must say, I'm deeply disappointed. I always figured you were smarter than that.
But then, we are all slaves to our bodies, aren't we? It's not really his fault that he wants to jump Malcolm, badly.
The tension in the room is almost tangible. Of course, though, Malcolm doesn't have a clue. "I'd be grateful if you could send my request through the appropriate channels," he says.
Jon nods slowly, and I'm thinking that's about the last thing he wants to do.
Malcolm is obviously trying to look pleased now, but fails spectacularly. In the end, he settles for cool, safe politeness. "I should be on my way then. Good night, sir."
He starts walking towards the door, but Jon is sort of in his way, and not making a move to let him pass. Malcolm looks faintly surprised at that, but decides to step around him, and then it happens.
Squeezing past Jon, Malcolm is very close to him, touching him. Shoulders brush, hips, arms. The soft sound of uniform fabric rubbing together. Both of them freeze, and finally, their eyes meet.
Now, humans are much more visual beings than dogs. Our kind relies on smell and sound, which almost never lead us astray, but you guys take in the world with your eyes. It's even said that your eyes are the windows to your souls (personally, I wouldn't want holes in my soul, but to each his own…). And apparently, those windows are wide open now, because Malcolm sees in them what I have smelled just then, and whatever Jon is seeing, it really does seem to excite him.
Okay, guys. Sucking faces is a really weird kind of goodbye-ritual, especially when performed with such ardor as those two exhibit.
And then it strikes me that maybe, those two infuriating humans have managed to fool all of us, including themselves all along. All except Hoshi. The woman is a genius. All hail her powers of deduction; Malcolm really does have a thing for the Captain.
I get a very clear smell signal from both of them now, and it's pure lust.
Yikes. Could you please act out your unreasonable and faintly disgusting mating preferences somewhere where I don't have to watch? Besides, I'm pretty sure screwing the Captain is off-limits according to the great book of Starfleet rules. Malcolm is being a bad puppy, right now, but the boss doesn't seem to be in the mood to chastise him. Quite the opposite, actually.
You know, watching them it just occurred to me that maybe those silly uniforms are some sort of clever birth control system. It takes so long to struggle out of them that maybe people are persuaded to not mate aboard a starship at all, and isn't that sort of what Starfleet wants?
… Watching them is almost painful. Smelling them, their heat and desire and frustration, definitely is.
I want to get out of here, but I don't think I can slip past them. They block the way.
Just get on with it, please? Maybe, once they've humped each other and gotten it out of their system, we can all go back to normal, and wouldn't that be nice.
First though… oh dear, things I never wanted to see my master do. Closing my eyes might help a little, but I don't think I can close my eyes, ears and nose all at once. It would be nice, though. Peaceful.
I put a paw over my nose and whine a little, but of course, nobody is listening to me. Sometimes, I really hate humans. They are so tactless. They really don't care about other beings' feelings.
A moan startles me and makes the hairs at the back of my neck stand up. It sounds as if… as if my master were in pain! Now that will not do. All my instincts kick in and I jump up, ready to snap and yap and bark at Malcolm. I will not let him hurt my master! Never! Jon can count on me to protect him, and I don't particularly like Malcolm right now, anyway.
Then, however, I see something that makes me stop abruptly and dim my noisy protest to a low growl.
Now that is just plain wrong.
No it can't be. Malcolm is a devious bastard, but now he's just so out of line…
Treachery, I smell treachery.
I naturally assumed that Malcolm wanted Jon to hump him, because there was something wrong with his hormone levels, making him momentarily forget that he's not a female. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts. It's actually the other way round, and Malcolm never had any doubts about his gender. All of this was just an elaborate ploy of his with the sole goal to enable him to jump ranks and move to the very top of the pack hierarchy.
Because there's only one guy who's more powerful than the pack master – the guy who's on top of him. In this case, literally.
Which means: we all owe our allegiance to Malcolm now.
Damn him, and damn me. I should have known that something was wrong with this whole picture. I should have seen it coming. Should have warned Jon.
Oh, he does seem to be enjoying himself right now, but once he realizes what this means, he won't be so happy. Poor, confused Jon. You never saw that one coming, either. You never thought Malcolm could be so devious.
I watch them, torn between the ardent wish to tear out Malcolm's throat (or at least to bite his exposed rear end) and a flicker of admiration for his clever plotting. It also occurs to me that the term 'doggy style' is actually pretty offensive.
I wait for what seems like an inordinate amount of time, running through all the terrifying possibilities of what might happen next, but finally, finally they move aside and the path to the door is clear.
I'm out of the room faster than you could say 'Porthos, sit!'
Not that anybody cares about me, mind you. Malcolm is busy exploring places where no man has gone before, and Jon has apparently completely lost his wits. My poor master. I'll mourn him later, though. Right now, I have a more important errand:
Hoshi needs to see this.
Well...? Do say it, that was different ;) If you liked it, leave me a review to let me know!