Star Trek and Star Trek: Enterprise are the copyrighted property of CBS Studios, Inc. This fiction item is intended for entertainment purposes only. No compensation has been received or will be accepted for it, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended or should be implied.
Author's Notes: You will need to have seen the third and fourth seasons of Enterprise for this story to make sense. Also, while it's not in this chapter, be aware that this story will eventually contain a slash subplot. If that is a problem for you, please reconsider reading.
I know I know, my bio says I don't write slash, but for this one I decided to challenge myself by pushing outside my comfort zone, both by shipping Reed/Sato (which I generally don't do) and by writing slash. It was fun, but exhausting, and although I succeeded I doubt I'll do either again anytime soon.
MAJOR props go to QuietRaine for beta reading, suggestions, comments and periodic nagging. I probably wouldn't have made it if not for her!
He woke suddenly, gasping. It had all been so clear, so beautiful. He'd seen Urquat in his dreams again, covered in pristine snow after winter's first storm. It had glittered in the moonlight and almost seemed to sing in clear chiming notes.
He'd have given anything to have actually been there.
Shivering, Malcolm pulled his covers around him and debated whether or not he should try and go back to sleep. He hadn't had much success at that lately, and his alarm would be going off in an hour. If he did make it back to sleep, he'd likely be awakened after mere minutes.
Sighing, he threw the covers off and got up. His stomach roiled at the idea of breakfast – Chef's food still wasn't sitting right – but there was work enough to keep him busy in the Armory. He'd lost time while recovering from the Loque'eque virus, so it wouldn't hurt if he reported for duty early to start catching up.
At least, he reflected as he headed for the shower, the itching had finally stopped.
Fourteen hours after reporting for duty, he realized he still hadn't eaten since the day before. The idea itself was still repugnant, but he knew that his body needed the fuel. With a sigh, he shut down his console and headed for the mess hall. Maybe he could manage something simple.
Hoshi was already there, staring at the cases with an equally apprehensive look on her face. "None of it looks even remotely good," she said to him, keeping her voice low so Chef wouldn't accidentally overhear.
Malcolm answered with a sigh. "I know. But we need to."
"Yeah, especially since we're still recovering." She rubbed the sleeve of her uniform for a second before grimacing in realization.
"You're still itching?"
"A little. Not that much though."
"All the more reason to make sure we're taking care of ourselves." He wasn't sure which one of them he was trying to persuade.
Her answer was another grimace, though she reached to open the doors. She took out two sandwiches and handed one to him. "These look pretty bland. They might work."
They did, but just barely. Malcolm wasted no time in taking their dishes up to the recycler after they'd finished eating. The smell had become overpowering.
But focusing on it helped him stave off his gloomy mood. It'd been three days now since Phlox had given them the antivirus. How long was this going to last?
He got a glass of water to help wash the taste out of his mouth and noticed that Hoshi was still at the table, staring out the viewport at the stars. The sad look on her face reflected his mood. After drawing another glass of water, he took it to her and sat back down. "What is it?"
"I still dream about it," she said. "Urquat."
"I do too."
"It was so..." she trailed off. "Earth seems like just so much dirt in comparison. It almost leaves me dizzy to think about how beautiful it was." A sour look crossed her face. "But it was their home, not ours. I wonder if we'll ever get back to normal."
"We will." He knew he didn't exactly sound convincing, but they had to believe it.
She closed her eyes, shoulders drooping. "I worry about that so much it hurts sometimes."
"It's late," he observed. "Maybe you should get some sleep. It might help."
"That's another problem. I can't. I keep dreaming about it, and when I wake up and realize that it was nothing more than the virus…" she trailed off again. "I'd almost rather be itching. At least it lets me forget about it for a while."
He reached out and covered her hand with his. "I know. I can't sleep either."
They sat there in silence for a while, staring out at the stars, before she gave him an enigmatic look and gently turned her own hand over, threading her fingers through his. Startled, Malcolm looked down at their entwined hands. "Hoshi?"
"I, um…" she seemed nervous. "Maybe, you know, it might be better if we didn't try to sleep alone…" she trailed off again. "I don't mean anything other than sleep, just…oh, forget about it." Her face had colored, and she started to stand. "Never mind. That was out of line."
He wasn't sure who was more surprised when he tightened his hand instead of letting her draw away. Or when he looked up and met her eyes. There was confusion there, and exhaustion, and it mirrored exactly the things he felt in his own soul.
She was right. It was out of line. But nothing about this situation was right.
"Your place or mine?" he asked softly.
He only turned the lights up enough so that they could see to undress, and he politely turned his back when Hoshi briefly broke the quiet to ask if she could borrow one of his t-shirts. Pulling the covers back, he crawled into the bunk and let her follow him on her own.
Her skin was warm as she settled her back against his chest. He put his arms around her. She reciprocated by wrapping her hands around his.
"Shut your eyes and think of somewhere," he whispered. "Imagine your favorite place – on Earth. The secret space you go when you want to be alone."
She trembled for a moment, but didn't respond with anything other than a long breath. Closing his own eyes, Malcolm tried to go to sleep.
It worked. And for the first time since they'd come back to the ship, he didn't dream of Urquat.