Authors: Lady Alyssa and Random Dent Disclaimer: Enterprise doesn't belong to us, but futuristic tactical systems make great Christmas presents. Note: While not actually slash, it does contain some innuendo which might be seen as slashy. Set after the episode 'Sleeping Dogs'.

The most recent away mission had not been one of the high points of Malcolm's career, but, given his recent record, this wasn't saying much. It was embarrassing rather than anything else that every time he went on a mission things went so horribly wrong - or at least more wrong than usual - and that he ended up incapacitated for one reason or another. Usually his reaction was to throw himself into his work and spend a few days polishing phase pistols in the armoury. This meant he could not only be seen to be doing his job, but it meant minimal contact with the rest of the crew. At least until the most embarrassing items of gossip about how he managed to mess up this time had been told so many times that they had ceased to be funny. And this time he was sure that it would take almost a week of polishing before the rest of the crew stopped laughing at the one about how he had sneezed with the visor of his helmet down.

On the way back from the Klingon ship he had almost been looking forward to spending some time in the armoury, he'd even got this new type of metal polish the last time he'd been on leave on an inhabited planet and had come up with some really useful improvements for the weapons which he was 99.9% sure wouldn't result in any major explosions. But unfortunately for Malcolm, his plan had been foiled.

"But I'm fine, honestly."

Realising that Malcolm wasn't going to take no for an answer, Trip and Dr Phlox took hold of one of Malcolm's arms each and began to forcibly march him back to his quarters.

"I'm afraid it's for your own good."

"I'm not that ill, really. Just give me some of the stuff you gave me before and a box of tissues and I'll be back on light duties first thing tomorrow morning."

"No can do, Captain's orders. You're confined to quarters for the next four days so as the rest of the crew don't get sick too."

"You could put me in the Armoury on my own, I could do all the little jobs that I've been putting off and I've got some really good ideas for weapons upgrades, I've got diagrams and everything. Please, please don't confine me to quarters."

"The armoury'll still be there in few days, Lieutenant, you can do the upgrades then."

"But what am I supposed to do for the next few days? How am I supposed to get anything to eat if I can't leave my room?"

"I'll bring you food."

"Will you bring me my paperwork too?"

Trip and the doctor exchanged looks. "Well, okay then." They arrived at Malcolm's quarters. "Now get undressed and get into bed."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I mean, put your pyjamas on and go to bed."

"You could at least leave first."

The doctor was not impressed at this ploy. "No, Mr. Reed, we know what you're like. We're not leaving until you're in bed and in nightwear."

"You'd better turn around then."

"Why? You got fluffy bunny pyjamas or something?" said Trip sarcastically and turned half way round, then turned back to grab the doctor by the shoulders and turn him round too. "I don't see why you're making such a big deal out of this, you've been to boarding school, ain't like you've never undressed in front o'a couple'a guys before."

"Which is exactly why I'm not planning on doing it again."

Approximately 12.5 seconds later Malcolm was in his pyjamas and perched somewhat reluctantly in his bed, as if ready to leap out again at a moment's notice.

"You're there and you're staying there unless me or the captain says different and if you so much as set one foot outside of this room I'm going to bust your ass back down to Crewman."

"But that's not fair, you know I've got the worst room, it's smaller than everyone else's and the acoustics are all.funny."

"You can hear T'Pol's room, so what, all she ever does is meditate and possibly sleep couple'a times a year."


"No buts. I'll bring you some paperwork later."


Malcolm was not in the mood to sleep; there were so many things that needed doing. There was cleaning his room for a start. Well, that lasted all of five minutes since he'd cleaned it about three days previously, but setting everything on his desk at right angles occupied almost another ten.

So he decided to pair his socks. First he paired them by actual pairs, but found that instead of fourteen he found that he had thirteen, so in an attempt to make up for this he tried pairing them by what looked good together. Then he realised that the only socks he owned were his regulation Starfleet ones. There was though, lurking in the back of the drawer, one pair of musical ones that played 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer', which he was sure must belong to someone else.

So he reorganised his library, cataloguing his back issues of 'Jane's Defence Weekly', putting his 'James Bond', 'Sharpe', 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' and 'Dan Dare' books into alphabetical order by author and then chronological order, carefully hiding his favourite 'Famous Five' book behind the 'Sharpes' because he was fairly sure no one on board would ask to borrow them.

Then, an hour having passed, he decided to tackle his wardrobe. Five minutes later it was colour coded into 'electric blue Starfleet uniforms' and 'black' and Malcolm was back sitting on his bed wondering what the hell he was going to do for the next four days.

When Trip finally came back three hours later Malcolm had settled down a bit and was reading 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', but only because he'd finished counting the rivets in the ceiling about 45 minutes earlier. Trip proceeded to knock everything off the desk in an attempt to put down the enormous tray of food he was carrying before he dropped it on the floor.

"Are you trying to feed me to death?"

"Nope, cold cures."

"Ah, I see." Well, really he didn't see. The tray contained, among other things, oranges, pineapple juice, chicken soup, curry, a strange thing in an oddly shaped bowl that Malcolm didn't want to speculate on and a large slice of chocolate cake.

"I understand the oranges and the chicken soup, and possibly the pineapple juice and chocolate cake, but what about the other stuff?"

"Well, curry's supposed to be good for a cold and since you're British I got the chef to make tikka masala."

"That's tikka masala?"

"The chef spent a lot of time on that."

"It's the wrong colour."

"It's not supposed to be orange?"

"It's the wrong shade of orange. And it's not glowing."

"Whaddaya mean, 'not glowing'?"

"When it's made properly it has this sort of radioactive glow about it. Anyway, what's that. other stuff?"

"I don't know, the doctor said everybody on Denobu-thing eats it when they're ill."

"You mean Dr 'you don't need that much painkiller to have a bullet removed from your leg' Phlox?"

"Hey, that's no fair, and he did apologise."

Malcolm got up and went over to the desk to poke it with a fork. "What was it when it was still - nyaaaah! It still is alive."

Trip took the fork off Malcolm and began to worry at the cold cure with it. "It's not still alive, do you really think the doctor would feed you something that wasn't dead - give it back! Give me the fork back, the mess hall count them after every meal!"

Trip was now also engaged in the fight against the doctor's cold cure, which was refusing to relinquish the fork.

"It's making a break for the door!"

Malcolm pulled a phase pistol out of the bedside cabinet and fired it at the rapidly escaping blob.

"Is it dead?"

"I don't know, it was only set to stun, but then it wasn't very big."

"I'll shove it out the airlock later just to be sure."

Malcolm turned his attention to more important matters. "Did you bring me my paperwork?"

"Nope, and I was hoping you weren't gonna ask. If it'll keep you quiet I'll get some, but I want to see most of that eaten by the time I get back."

Malcolm almost wished that he hadn't shot the doctor's cold cure with the phase pistol - it might have eaten the curry. "And if I don't eat it? Won't I get any pudding? Or perhaps you'll tell me I'm not allowed to go out to play with the other tactical officers?"

Twenty minutes later, Trip was back with Malcolm's unfinished paperwork. All two days worth of it. And all of his own, a gargantuan undertaking covering six months of things blowing up in engineering.

Malcolm looked at the first datapad Trip handed him. "'Troubleshooting Tips For Your New Warp Engine'? 'Enterprise NX-01 Engine Room Inventory'? Haven't you done any paperwork since we left Earth?"

"I'd nearly finished the customer satisfaction survey when stuff started blowing up, and y'know, I never really got round to the rest." Trip took some more datapads out of the front of his overalls, receiving a disgusted look from Malcolm. "What? I couldn't carry any more and this was the easiest way of getting them here."

"Go into the bathroom and *wipe them * before you give them to me."

"But they're electric!"

"Then use a very slightly damp cloth instead of a wet one."

"Good mornin'! I brought you some pancakes and peanut butter for breakfast. You feeling any better this morning?"

"Donwntbreakfst. Turn'lightsb'ck'ffagain."

"Have you been trying to learn Vulcan or something?"

"T'Pol. Vulcan meditation. Keep me awake al'nigh."

Trip walked over to the bed and put a hand on Malcolm's forehead. "Think I'll go get the doctor."

The doctor, when he had been bodily dragged away from the Mess Hall, confirmed that Malcolm was running a fever, but that this was an entirely natural way for the body to combat the cold, and he could be safely left. It was probably best if people checked in on him now and again though, in case his delirious rantings about T'Pol and Hoshi became too distressing.

"Hiya Malcolm. How's it going?"

There was a large pile of blankets at the end of Malcolm's bed. The blankets sneezed, and a hand snaked out to reach for the tissues. There was a mumbled reply to Travis' question.

"Let me tell you all gossip from the ship that's happened in the, ooh, 22 hours that you've been ill. Well, Liz Cutler has so fallen out with her room-mate, I heard them arguing in the turbolift, but then again, that's not exactly unusual is it? What is unusual is what they were arguing about, you remember, ooh, about a week ago."

The pile of blankets on the bed seemed to be wilting, in as much as it is possible for a pile of blankets to wilt.

"Hello dear. Can I speak to the Communications Officer dear?"

"I am the Communications Officer. And who are you, this is a Starfleet channel?"

"It's your grandma dear, isn't the screen-thing working?"

"Umm, yes, and I don't think you are my grandma."

"There's no need to be like that about it. I needn't have bothered calling, only your sister said you were ill."

"I think that you have the wrong spaceship."

"This is the Enterprise?"

"Ummm. Yes."

"Oh, good, see, I knew it was you all along. You are looking a bit peaky, and you should really get your hair cut Malcolm. It doesn't do for an officer to let himself go like that."

Hoshi realised that the rest of the bridge crew had subtly abandoned their workstations and were lurking behind her. "I. Am Not. Malcolm."

"There's no need to get sarcastic with me, young man. It was funny the first time, now stop it."

"But I'm not."

"And don't interrupt your grandmother! If you'd been brought up properly you wouldn't want to go gadding about across half the galaxy, I blame your father, your mother never should have married him, you know what they say about sailors. Do they say that about people in Starfleet as well?"

"I don't know." Hoshi was getting nowhere with reasoning with this woman.

"Let me tell you about the jumble sale we had down the church hall, well, Mrs.Pettifer from over the road, you know dear, her with the teeth."

The Captain, whiles trying not to laugh, thought that this might be an opportune moment to tell Malcolm his grandmother was trying to contact him.


"Sir, pleas' tell me I can go back to light duties."

"No. The doctor told me what kind of fever you're running. I called because I think Hoshi is talking to your grandmother."

"Whih' one?"

"She didn't say. But she does seem to think that Hoshi is you."

"Ohmigod. Insane Granny Postlethwaite has found out what ship I'm on. Told them no' to tell her." Malcolm sneezed again.

"Do you want us to put the call though to your quarters?"

"No. She'll just be convinced I'm my own Uncle Alfred, and he's been dead for five years."

"What shall we do?"

There was a pause on Malcolm's end. "Tell Hoshi to say something about giving my love to great aunt Evelyn. They can't stand each other."

"Thank you Malcolm."

The captain nodded to Hoshi, who'd heard all this and was just waiting for a gap in the conversation.

"Oh, yes I was cleaning out the spare room and found some of your school photographs, do you want a look?"

Hoshi briefly considered doing the gentlemanly thing and ending the conversation there and then, then realised that she wasn't a gentleman and didn't have to. "Yes, please."

The captain shot Hoshi a warning shot, but didn't say anything. He would admit to a certain curiosity too.

"Here's you on your first day at prep school." A picture of a very, very grumpy seven year old Malcolm glowering at the camera in shorts, tie and blazer was held up. The captain noted the almost imperceptible movement of Hoshi's hand which showed that she'd just screen captured that.

"Ooh, and here's you in the rugby team." This picture was of an eight year old Malcolm diving for a rugby try whilst being tackled by three other homicidal looking eight year olds.

"Aaaaaah. This is my favourite. You were such a sweet boy. The school nativity play." This was the standard picture of Mary, Joseph, and the three wise men. "Oh, I'd best be going, I told the vicar I'd be round for flower arranging at three. Goodbye, love, and don't trust any strange aliens. You never know where they've been."


The captain looked at Hoshi. "I know that you just saved the shots of Malcolm school pictures."


"So, if you could put up the Nativity play picture, so we can try to work out which one he is.?"

"Yes, sir."

The picture was duly displayed.

"It's kinda hard to tell, with the false beards."

"It could be the second wise man along."

Hoshi cocked her head to look at the screen, and then laughed. "I think you're all looking at this the wrong way."


"Take a look at the Virgin Mary."

"Wha -? Oh. Yes. I see. The way 'she' is holding the baby Jesus like a weapon."

"And the deeply suspicious look 'she' is giving to the three wise men."

"It would seem that Mr. Reed has more hidden depths than we thought."

"Evenin' Mary. Sorry Ah'm late, but.."

"Shush!" Malcolm was curled up into one corner of his bed with his ear to the wall.

Trip came over and sat next to him. "What?" he whispered.


From the corner faint sounds could be heard, and from the complaints Malcolm had filed about his room soon after they had left Earth, they must have been coming from T'Pol's room.

"Are you still nervous?"

"Yes. This is only the second time I've done this."

"Your performance last night was quite satisfactory."

Trip looked at Malcolm, and whispered. "Who's that in there with her?"

"I think it's Hoshi." Malcolm whispered back. "Now, be quiet!"

The sounds of talking were replaced with some kind of low mumbling.

Trip whispered. "Do you think. are they. I mean.?"

"I don't know. They might be."

Both men tried to get closer to the corner where the acoustics were best. There was now some heavy breathing coming from the room below.

"Never thought of mahself as a peepin' Tom."

"I don't see anything."

"Ain't this against Starfleet protocol?"

"Only if we get caught, and I'm in charge of security."

They resumed listening, moral scruples temporarily pushed to one side.

"Please relax, ensign."

"Don't you think you should be calling me Hoshi?"

"I apologise."

There was a gurgling from the corner they were listening at.

Trip sat back. "Can she hear you?"

"Don't think so. I think it's some kind of odd acoustic effect from the plumbing."

The gurgling abruptly stopped and the two men were glued to the wall again. This time all they could hear was deep breathing.

"Damn efficient, these Vulcans."

Then there was a cry "Ooooooooooooooaaaaaahow."

"Are you alright, Ensign?"

"Yes, yes. Just a little startled."

Trip and Malcolm looked at each other, a little unsure of what to say. They heard some more muffled sounds from the other room, then Hoshi wishing T'Pol goodnight.

Trip sat back on the bed. "Well, that sure was educational."

"Very. Any chance of some food now?"

"Certainly seems to have cheered you up. Mary."

"Why are you calling me Mary?"

"Well, before your grandma rang off, she showed us some pictures of you at school."

Malcolm looked confused. "You mean Insane Granny Postlethwaite really did call and thought Hoshi was me, and that it wasn't some kind of fevered delirium?"

"Nope. Really happened."

"Then would my idea to defeat the Suliban using mainly spoons make any sense?"

"Don't think so."


"What were you gonna do with the spoons anyway?"

"Never mind. I think now that it's probably against the laws of physics."

Trip handed him the tray and then sat on the end of the bed.

"Don't you have anything better to do?"

"Nope. Cap'n's watching water polo, and don't wanna be disturbed, and they're showing 'Attack of the Killer Androids III: They Came And Ate Us.'. So Ah reckon annoying you's the most interestin' thing goin on this evenin'."

"Oh. Wonderful. Really."

"Got something for ya." Trip produced from his overalls a three foot long charred black 'thing'.

"What the hell is that?"

"Dontcha remember? Last week, when we couldn't get that relay working?"

"Oh, yes. Does the Captain know that for the past week one of the most critical relays in the ship was held together by one of your socks and one of my socks?"

"Nope. And he ain't gonna find out. Sorry 'bout the charring. Mine's in a worse state. Oh, yeah, and why exactly does your sock have a name tape in it?"

"Force of habit, alright?"

"Yeah, ah believe ya. Oh, Ah never did finish telling you about your grandma's photos. Hoshi's stored them on the computer." Malcolm groaned, but Trip continued, "and you look real sweet. Especially as the Virgin Mary."

Malcolm went pale. "Oh, no. No."

"Go on. Were ya jeest prettier than all the girls?" This was done in Trip's best 'Southern Belle' voice.

"No. There weren't any girls. It was an all male school and I was the Virgin Mary because I was the shortest in my class. Alright?"

"Woah, sorry." Trip backed off slightly, shuffling further down the bed. "Got any plans for this evenin'?"

"Yes, I've got a hot date lined up, we're thinking of going to the ballet and then back to mine. Of course I don't have any plans, I'm confined to quarters, remember? It was you who confined me!"

"Hey, it's for your own good. We could play checkers."

"No, you can play checkers, I'll play draughts."


"Never mind. Just set the board up."

Three days later Trip found himself summoned to the Captain's ready room.

"I see you've actually managed to get all your paperwork done."

"Yes, Cap'n."

"With all those things that have been blowing up in engineering recently?"

"Well, ah'd done some of it before, just hadn't handed it in. It's all there now."

"All done entirely accurately."

"Thank you cap'n."

"Trip. How long have I known you?"

"Good long time."

"Exactly. You are a very good engineer. And you are absolutely terrible at paperwork. Have you been taking advantage of Malcolm?"

"HEY! We're just friends and you know it!"


"Nothin, nothin'."

"Have you got Malcolm to do your paperwork while he's been sick?"

"Would I do a thing like that?"

"Ok then. Spell 'color' for me."


"And not for example C-O-L-O-U-R, Trip, which is how 'you' seem to have spelt it at least three times through this paperwork."

"Ummm, well, Ah."

"It's all in British spelling."

"Ok, he did do my paperwork for me, but he was real bored, and it's not like I ordered him to do it, he made me, he begged!"

"Ok, ok. Don't do it again. And doing some of your own paper occasionally might be nice. Or someone in Engineering could do some of it, perhaps? Starfleet would like to know how the engine's doing."

"Yes, cap'n."

"Anything interesting lined up for this evening?"

"Might go down, check how Mal's doing. We're letting him back on light duty tomorrow, right?"

"Yes. Nice to see that so many people are concerned about his welfare."

"Yeah. Real nice."

Trip opened the door to Malcolm's room to find that he was not the first person there. Travis was listening at the corner. Malcolm was up and dressed and sat next to him, and two guys from Malcolm's armoury team were sat on the end of the bed. They mumbled 'hello's to him.

"Any action?"

"Nope. Not yet. But Hoshi was still in the Mess Hall when I left."

"Was T'Pol with her?"

"Yeah, eating some of that Vulcan stuff."

"Aha! See?"

"See what?"

"Eatin' together."

"It's a communal mess hall. You eat with a lot of people."

One of the Armoury men chipped in. "Yeah, you eat breakfast with the doctor sometimes."

The rest of the room looked at Malcolm, who shuddered. "Urrrgh. No, please, can we change the subject?"

Travis chipped in. "If you were right, well, you and the captain eat together, and alone, an awful lot of the time." He smirked.

"Ok, fine, eatin together don't mean nothin'. Oh, yeah, couple'a my engineering guys will be over real soon."

"This is not a very big room."

"It'll be ok."

"The more people who know, the more likely someone else will find out."

"I've told them to be discreet."

Two minutes later four men from Engineering turned up, ineffectually trying to hide three six packs.

"Oh, very discreet."

"Hey, I think something's happening."

All the room tried to dive into the corner. Trip and Malcolm pulled rank and elbowed their way to the best listening positions.

"You have been progressing well, Hoshi."

"Thank you."

"Therefore, this evening, we will try something different."

There was a mutual sigh from the men in Malcolm's room. Then, without warning the door opened. The heap of people on the bed collapsed in front of the confused gaze of the captain.

"What's going on?"

They all looked like rabbits in the headlights.

It was Malcolm who broke the silence. "It's the acoustics in this room, sir."

"Yeah, we've been tryin' to fix them. It's the pipes, they're been real buggin him while he's been sick."

"So you are trying to fix this, now, when he's better."

"Well, couldn't kick a guy out of his bed when he's sick could we?"

"Travis, you're not part of an engineering detail."

"No, but I've been on more ships than they have, I know about little things, like this."

The Captain looked at them. He was almost certain that they were up to something, but he wasn't sure what, and since they were some of his most senior officers he couldn't go round making random accusations.

"Feeling better, Malcolm?"

"Yes, sir. Ready for duty sir. Right now sir."

"Calm down, you're confined to quarters until 0600 hours tomorrow morning."

"Yes, sir."

"Well then. Good evening gentlemen."

T'Pol and Hoshi were eating together in the mess hall.

"T'Pol, um, is it just me, or are loads of people looking at us in a really odd way."

"I had noted an increased interest in our activities from the rest of the crew. Particularly the male crew."

"Any idea why?"

"None whatsoever."

"I'm sure we'll find out eventually. Oh, I forgot to thank you for your help with the meditation."

"I am sure that it will assist you in your duties."

"Thank you anyway."

"You have progressed far enough that there is no need for my continued assistance. You will be able to accomplish this alone."

There was a crash from behind Hoshi as Commander Tucker, who had been passing behind her with a tray of food fell over.