Hello! So, I'm venturing into Star Trek territory….Enterprise has really stolen my heart at the moment, and this little plot bunny just wouldn't leave me alone- It's probably been done thousands of times before, but this is my take on a story featuring Malcolm's fear- this is set after 'Shuttlepod One'. ^^
'So, this planetoid we're about to go and see….its predominantly made up of water?' Malcolm Reed asked, one hand still on his desk, as if it anchored him down to the ship.
Captain Archer nodded, looking down at the scans again. 'Yep- over 90 percent of it is covered in it; hope you packed your wetsuit!' he quipped, before glancing over at his armoury officer in concern as Malcolm blanched slightly. 'You ok with that? I can assign someone else-'
'No, no…it's fine, really,' Reed muttered, waving a hand dismissively at Archer. 'I'll be fine.' He finished with a stern nod and a forced smile.
'Well ok, we'll see how it goes.' The Captain muttered, still not looking convinced as he started walking out of the bridge. 'I'll see you in landing bay one with Trip in about an hour, okay?' he called behind him, before pressing the button and disappearing through the door.
'Yep, on my way!' Malcolm called weakly after him, his false smile fading as he turned to the wall. Shaking his head slightly he forced himself to breathe evenly, to try and quell his rapidly thundering heart. He wasn't even on the damn planet yet and he was panicking- this was going to go so well.
Trip bounded along the corridor, a bag with his waterproofs in slung over one shoulder- this was what he loved doing best; exploring untraveled lands, discovering new things….his excited thoughts were cruising through his head as he strode along the corridor toward the meeting point. A door opened to his side and Lieutenant Reed walked out, his own bag held in a limp hand. Trip looked at him, cocking his head. 'You alright?' he asked lightly as they continued walking, noting his pale face.
'What? Yes I'm fine, why wouldn't I be?' Reed hadn't exactly proclaimed to the whole crew his fear, and he wasn't about to. The less he talked about it the better he felt.
Trip shrugged, letting it flow over his head. 'No reason, no reason at all…you excited about comin' for this one?' he asked, eyes lighting up as the talk turned back to their mission.
'Oh yes, terribly excited….' Malcolm snarked, before he caught his commander's eye once more.
'Sorry, sir….just a bit tired- you know, double shifts and all that.'
'Uh huh, I hear ya- and Malcolm, do me a favour? Call me Trip.' Tucker grinned, patting the man on the back. 'I'm getting tired of this 'Sir' crap with you, 'specially when we're gonna be out on a mission an' all….'
'Oh, right….ok…..Trip.' Malcolm ventured- the name felt alien on his tongue, but his experience with his Commander in Shuttlepod One had really broken down barriers between them; the least he could so was try.
'You can call me Malcolm if you want?' Malcolm grinned as they stopped at the door.
'Very funny.' Trip muttered, rolling his eyes, before he pressed the button for the launch bay door- Archer and T'Pol were already there by the Shuttlepod.
'All ready to go?' Archer asked, looking the two men over with a smile.
'I think we're good to go?' Trip smiled, and Malcolm nodded his agreement.
'Good- it'll be nightfall in six hours. We are intending to get some samples from the sparse rocks and the water, and bring it back and analyse it as soon as possible.' T'Pol said, her eyes on her own scanner.
'Well what are we waitin' for, Christmas?' Trip exclaimed, shaking his head at the group with a quirked eyebrow, before walking over to the Shuttlepod and pushing his bag inside. T'Pol followed, until it was just Archer and Malcolm outside.
'You sure you're ok?' the Captain asked again, putting a hand on the Officer's shoulder.
'Thank you for the concern, Captain, but I am really…fine. I'll just have to deal with getting a little wet, won't I?' he tried to smile, but his stomach lurched at the thought- thankfully Archer was turning back to the pod at this point, so didn't see.
Taking one last, deep breath, Malcolm stepped inside the Pod and took his seat next to Trip.
'I wonder what sort of life will be in that water?' the Blond wondered aloud, sitting forward in his seat.
'Hopefully nothing- it'll all be dead and empty and we can just get our samples and be on our way….' Malcolm muttered to himself.
Trip snorted, flicking his hand in his direction. 'What's eatin' him? Seems to me like the Lieutenant here is afraid of the water!' he grinned, before sitting back, shaking his head.
Malcolm decided not to reply; he simply sat back, looking at his own controls and scanner as they made their decent onto the surface of the planetoid.
Of all the things Malcolm Reed could be doing on a Monday afternoon, wading chest deep through freezing cold, eerily dark water wasn't on the top of his list. The air was thankfully breathable, which meant they didn't have to wear the heavy suits and breathing masks- something Malcolm was more than grateful for. Nevertheless, he was still chest deep in unknown water, picking his way through the icy liquid behind the Captain and T'Pol, with nothing but an excited puppy in the form of Trip to keep him company.
'Int' this somethin'? He asked for the fourth time in a row, his grin getting more and more inane by the second.
'Yes, fascinating…..' Malcolm muttered for the fourth time in a row, carefully walking in what he hoped were the Captain's footsteps. That meant they were safe, or so he hoped.
'You sure you're ok?' Trip muttered, moving next to him with a wave of cold water.
'Why does everyone insist on asking me that?!' Malcolm exploded, shaking his head. 'I'm fine, just leave me be and I'll be even finer….'
'Alright, keep your shirt on Lieutenant…..' Trip grinned.
'Let's just get some samples, ok? The quicker we all get this done the quicker we can go…..' the Englishman muttered, taking out the bottles and test tubes they were going to use to collect the samples of water- they had already collected the rock samples at the base were they landed.
He handed one to Trip, who rolled his eyes at him as he accepted it. 'You need to lighten up, is what you need to do….' He said, before pushing the bottle into the water and screwing the lid on top.
'T'Pol says she wants to have all of them, so we should get going….' He said as he watched Malcolm collect his own samples from behind them, on a different current.
'Coming…..' he replied, stowing the bottles back safely in his waterproof box. 'Let's go.'
The two of them made their way silently after the Captain and the Vulcan. Suddenly, Trip noticed Malcolm had gone stiff beside him. 'You alright?' he asked, instantly alert.
'I'm not stupid, Commander, but I would prefer if you didn't make jokes at my expense!' Reed snapped, eyes dark.
'What? What I do?' Trip asked, shaking his head, eyes wide.
'You know what you did, don't pretend!' Malcolm spat, his face reddening the darkness. 'Of all the people….'
'Malc, I have literally no idea what in hell you're talkin' about!' Trip cut in, before the current changed beneath them, sending something across their legs.
Trip looked at the other man in alarm, at the dawning comprehension on his sharp features.
'Y-you felt that?' Malcolm asked, teeth chattering. His heart thundered in his chest, panic rising in his throat. This wasn't happening…..dear God this wasn't happening…
'It wasn't you the first time?'
'Malcolm I swear to God it wasn't…'
'Damn.' The two men turned and began to walk as fast as they could in the direction of the two other members of their group. 'Uh, guys!' Trip yelled into the darkness. 'We should get a move on!'
'It could be nothing, it could just have been the current….it was probably nothing…..' Malcolm muttered under his breath, picking up his pace with hitched breaths, although he wasn't sure he was even reassuring himself.
'Are you guys ok?' Archer's loud voice called.
'Cap'n- we need to get outta the water!' Trip yelled back as the two figures appeared in front of them.
Suddenly the water exploded around them, and the two men were thrown backwards in different directions with the force of it. Malcolm squeezed his eyes shut as he was suddenly submerged in the icy water- as he surfaced again he was dimly aware that someone was shouting his name, but he couldn't locate the voice.
Panic erupted in his chest and he forgot to breathe- gasping for air he took in water, the icy coldness making him shudder. Arms flailing, he fought to keep upright, a hot plume of panic hitting his body with actual pain.
'Malcolm!...Malcolm!...' the voice yelled again, but before he could look around he felt something strong lace itself around his leg.
'Trip!' he found himself calling, eyes wide as the man's face came into view amidst the swirl of suffocating water.
'I got ya Malc…..' The blond promised, swimming closer.
'My leg! It's got my leg!' Malcolm yelped, hand reaching out to grab his friend.
Trip grabbed the man's hand tight, bringing his body closer so Malcolm could use it lever himself out. 'C'mon…swim with me!' he ordered, wincing slightly as Malcolm scrabbled at his back and shoulders trying to get free.
'Trip, I c-'his head sunk under the water as whatever had his leg pulled sharply. He surfaced again, choking and spluttering. 'It- it's trying to pull me under!' he cried, fingers digging at Trip's shoulder.
'Not on my watch it aint!' Trip muttered, before diving under the water, leaving Malcolm at the surface, terror lacing his veins.
'Malcolm?!' the Captain's voice was strong over the sound of crashing water.
'Over here, sir- don't come too close! Something's in the water and it's got me!'
Malcolm didn't get to hear the reply as Trip came to the surface, coughing- he pushed himself closer to the other man, letting him grab hold again. 'I managed to see it- it's like a big ol' Octopus. It's already in its lair so it's just trying to drag you under; one or two good pulls outta do it….' he muttered, teeth chattering.
'Well I-' Malcolm couldn't finish his sentence as he was pulled under again, this time with his arms being wrenched from the other man's tight grasp.
'Malcolm?!' Trip yelped, before he dove back into the water, the coldness enveloping him once more. Through the misty darkness of the water he could just make out the blurry figure of the Armoury Officer. Malcolm's eyes were shut so he couldn't convey any sort of plan to him, but he swam closer, grabbing the man's arms as he was pulled farther into the creatures' nest.
Urgent bubbles poured from Malcolm's mouth as panic seemed to overtake him- his eyes suddenly opened, wide and frightened against the darkness.
Trip shook his head wildly, indicating that he should stop panicking so much, but it seemed like the older man couldn't understand- his mouth opened and closed, his arms and legs flailing as he hopelessly tried to escape the grasp of the creature.
Truly out of options, and with Malcolm's time starting to really run out, Trip dived for the surface for a few merciful breaths, before he pulled out the small knife on his belt. He heard Jon call, but decided that the Captain would just have to wait- he dived back, brandishing the weapon in front of him.
When he reached Malcolm he honestly thought he was too late- the man was limp, the bubbles slower. He stabbed the tentacle holding him down and wrenched it sharply downwards- black blood oozed upwards, and the tendril contracted, releasing the man for a few seconds. Grabbing Malcolm around the middle, he pushed upwards, taking in a huge breath as they broke the surface.
'Malcolm….Malcolm…' he gasped out as he swam away, the name like a mantra as he looked down at the man. His chest was hardly moving, his face pallid.
'No! No no no….' he choked out, shaking his head.
'Over here!' Archer's voice yelled close to them- they had somehow gotten closer to the only spit of land that mattered; the one with the pod on.
Dragging the dead weight of Malcolm behind him, Trip swam like his life depended on it.
'I don't think he's breathing, sir….' He said, voice cracking as he hauled Malcolm upward.
Archer looked down at him as Trip fell to his knees beside him. 'You know CPR?' He asked his engineer, before getting to his knees beside him for back up.
Trip nodded- he had taken a few classes, but had never done it for real. He pushed hard on Malcolm's chest three or four times, feeling his body indent under his hands- no response.
'Don't do this to me,' he begged the officer as he titled his head upwards. 'Not now….' He pinched the top of his nose and breathed into his mouth; his chest rose and fell with each breath, still with no response.
'Come on!' Trip ordered, beginning the set again. 'Come on Malc…' he was starting to panic now.
Still no response, and he knew time was running out. 'What are we gonna do?' he asked, turning wild eyes on their Captain.
'Keep going, Trip.' Archer muttered instead of answering- he looked across at the pod; T'Pol was relaying a mayday to the Enterprise…help was on its way.
Supressing a panicked retort, Trip started mouth to mouth again- suddenly Malcolm convulsed beneath him and turned sideways, spitting out water in a giant stream from his mouth.
Trip sat back as he coughed and spluttered, relief flooding through him.
'Malc? You ok?' he asked, reaching forwards and grabbing the man's shoulder as he coughed some more.
Between racked coughs, Malcolm shot him a look- 'Stop… asking if I'm ok!' he cried, leaning back as Trip laughed loudly- he was gonna be fine.
'Thought we'd lost you…' he muttered as he sunk to the rocks beside him, teeth chattering with cold. He lifted a shaking hand and grasped the other man's shoulder, gripping it tightly as if to reassure himself that he was still there.
'Nah, you c-can't get rid of me tha-that easily!' Malcolm replied, his lips blue. They both chuckled at that, before Archer was standing above them, holding two thick blankets. He knelt down and put them around each man's shoulder, concern on his face.
'Malcolm, you ok?' he asked, smiling as he got a nod from the Armoury Officer. 'Trip?'
'I'm good sir, just a bit cold is all,' Trip replied, 'think Malc got off a bit worse though.'
Malcolm lay back, looking up at the darkening sky. Residual fear made him close his eyes- his fingers curled around the nearest thing he could find, which just happened to be the sleeve of Trip.
Trip looked sideways at his hand as Archer made his way back to the Shuttlepod to get it started- he smiled as Malcolm released his tight grip on his sleeve. 'You sure you're ok? Like seriously?' he asked, eyes boring straight into the other man's eyes. He knew something had been wrong with him from the jump, and with the man still acting terrified he had to know what was bothering him so much.
Malcolm sighed, shaking his head as his teeth chattered. 'I'm ok now- I…I'm just scared of water; well, of drowning to be sp-specific…' he explained, rubbing his neck and wincing.
'Really?' Trip muttered, shaking his head. 'Should've told me.'
'What would you have done? Held my hand?' Malcolm snarked back, smiling.
Trip shrugged, before standing up and offering him his hand. 'Need a hand?' he asked lightly, quirking an eyebrow.
Snorting, Malcolm took the hand, levering himself up. His head swam slightly, making him sway; Trip held tight onto his arm as he straightened up. 'Let's get outta here!' the Blond muttered, steering him to the Pod. 'Good idea…..' Malcolm replied, teeth still chattering in his mouth.
The bright lights of Med Bay made him groan as he opened his eyes. The sharp smell of antiseptic caught in his nose as he breathed in- a shadow fell on his face as he opened his eyes wider.
'Mornin' Malc!' Trip's voice careered into his consciousness.
'Morning, Commander,' he replied, frowning slightly. 'What time is it?'
'Oh it's just a little over ten in the morning the day after the day after the night before, but don't worry- the Cap'n said you could have some time off.' Came his answer, as Trip grinned widely down at him.
'Good, that's alright then….' Malcolm smiled, stretching.
'Yep, the Doc said you'd be out this afternoon if everything goes well- near drowning is a painful thing apparently; you still had water in your lungs when we got back.' Trip muttered, voice turning serious.
'Really? That's why my throat feels like I've been eating sandpaper.'
'And you? How are you?'
'Oh you know me, fit as a fiddle- just a shot for whatever could be lurkin' in that water and a session with hot coffee and a Pecan Pie set me straight again!' Trip grinned.
'Typical.' Malcolm snorted as he sat up- his muscles felt heavy as lead as he swung his legs off the side of the bed. He best get up and moving as soon as possible.
Malcolm looked up as Trip began to walk out of the room. 'Trip!' he called, watching as the man turned again.
'Yeah?' Trip replied, walking back and standing next to the bed.
'I just want to say- thanks for, you know….saving my life and all that.' He said, smiling lightly at the engineer. 'I won't forget it.'
Trip smiled, clapping Malcolm on the shoulder and squeezing. 'You don't need to thank me, Malc. I'm sure you'd do the same for me, right?'
'Of course- well, maybe not dive into a river or something to save you…but any other type of life or death catastrophe I'm your man!' Malcolm grinned, only slightly joking.
'Well, there you go then- it's just what friends do.' Trip snorted, nodding once at the Armoury Officer before turning and walking for the door again. 'I'll see you later Malcolm- some of us have got work to be getting along with!' he called, laughing as the door closed behind him.
Malcolm snorted and shook his head, leaning back down onto his bed and relaxing his tense muscles. He sighed heavily, still feeling the last etchings of panic flow over him. He never wanted to experience anything like that again.
Closing his eyes against the hot glare of the Medi Bay, Malcolm Reed was glad that he had gone on the trip to the planetoid, as they had got some good results by all accounts….he only hoped that the next time he volunteered for an excavation and sample collecting mission the place in question would be less… wet.
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it ^^
Please leave a review; I would love to know what you think!