Best Laid Plans

by The Grrrl

Title: Best Laid Plans

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@yahoo.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/thegrrrl/

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Pairings: Tucker/Reed, T/R/m

Feedback: Yes, please. Comments, criticisms, suggestions all welcomed.

Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing naughty games with them.

Summary: Malcolm and Trip are off on another away mission. Things go wrong, of course. Yes there's still plenty of gratuitous sex. This fic continues their relationship from Temperatures Rising and When I Think About You, although the story stands alone.

Notes: A big thank you to my beta, Kim, who also very graciously helped me through a big mental block—she was major force in shaping this story! And also gave me plenty of encouragement when I was convinced I bit off more than I could chew.

Part I

Malcolm finished examining his scans of the region. He restlessly twisted his chair back and forth, watching the stars slowly pass. He didn't know whether to be excited or anxious. He was about to spend the next two weeks alone with his lover, on ShuttlePod One. No warp engines, no crewmates, no interruptions. And, with any luck, no microsingularities. He anxiously scanned the region again.

Trip finished entering the coordinates of their destination. "Well, we have four days till we reach the comet," he said, turning to face Malcolm.

"Whatever shall we do to occupy ourselves?" Malcolm asked with a grin. Suddenly Trip was right there, settling in on his lap, legs straddling his. Malcolm hoped the chair would hold them both.

"Let's see, didja bring any good books this time? Maybe Ulysses again?" asked Trip.

"'Fraid not." Malcolm leaned back in his chair, running his hands down Trip's chest and enjoying the sensation of his weight pinning him down. "Shame the captain couldn't make it, although I'm sure he's enjoying his time with the Vulcans and Coridans. Their trade discussions must be simply fascinating."

Trip shook his head in dismay. "Poor Cap'n." He paused. "And speaking of Vulcans, maybe you can spend some time explaining that obsession you have with T'Pol's bum?" asked Trip, eyebrows raised, arms folded against his chest.

Malcolm laughed. He wasn't sure what had possessed him to tell that to Trip. "Maybe I just have this thing for alien bums." He moved Trip's arms so he could unzip his uniform.

"Do you really?" Trip began to assist him, pulling his arms out of the sleeves. "Even Phlox's?"

"I hear he has two husbands and three wives, did you know that?" asked Malcolm.

"You're kidding." Trip paused, half out of the coverall. "No wonder he's way out here on the Enterprise."

"Personally, I find it quite intriguing. Think of the possibilities." Malcolm helped Trip pull his arms from his sleeves and proceeded to pull the shirt beneath over his head. After a bit of a struggle, he succeeded in removing the shirt, admiring the bare chest beneath. He could admire it endlessly, he thought, running his hands through the soft hair, feeling the rock hard muscle under silky skin. His hands continued up along the shoulders, neck, finally coming to rest on either side of Trip's face.

Trip turned his head and began to kiss Malcolm's hand, running his tongue along his fingers, sucking his thumb gently. Malcolm groaned, his lover's wet mouth making him hungry for more. Leaning forward, he kissed the hollow of Trip's throat, then moved on, kissing, licking, nuzzling up his neck, finally pulling the man's head down to his lips for a deep, solid kiss, delighting in the feel of their tongues entwining. Trip's hands made their way to his lap, sliding along his thighs, making him ache with desire.

Abruptly, Trip stood. "Come on, darlin, let's get naked," he said, enthusiastically pulling Malcolm to the interior of the small shuttle. He opened the storage bin underneath the bench seat and triumphantly produced a mat and some blankets.

"Came prepared, didn't you?" asked Malcolm, smiling. "And you weren't even a Boy Scout."

"I planned on us having a little more fun on the Shuttle than last time," said Trip. He began to free Malcolm from his uniform.

"You mean that wasn't fun?" demanded Malcolm. "At least some portions of that trip were quite -hmmmm- memorable." Trip had gotten his pants down and was stroking his fully erect penis, a delightful sensation.

At last they were both naked. They held each other close, enjoying the feeling of skin on skin, fully erect cocks pressed together. Malcolm wondered again how he managed to be so fortunate, to have this man want him so much. As the heat between them continued to build, his worries of microsingularities and other untold dangers lurking in the universe faded. He pulled Trip down to the mat, lying him down while trailing kisses down his chest. He licked along his hip, hands stroking Trip's shaft, then lightly cupping and his balls. Trip's happy sighs were music to his ears. He continued south, down one leg, eventually ending up at Trip's feet, running his tongue along the delicate arches until he heard what sounded suspiciously like a giggle.

The foot slipped out of his hands as Trip twisted around to nibble at his thigh now. Malcolm lay on his side, sliding his lover's hips close to his face to gain access to his erection. He ran his tongue along the length of it, listening to Trip moan with delight. Then he sucked it deeply into his mouth, groaning with his mouth full as Trip did the same. They licked and sucked, taking their time with each other. Malcolm gloried in the sensation of possessing and being possessed. Finally they simultaneously reached a long, shuttering climax.

They laid together for a time, Malcolm resting his head on Trip's thigh. Then he sat up, adjusted the blanket, and lay back down now facing his lover. "All right," he murmured, reaching to kiss the tip of Trip's nose, "I suppose that was a bit more fun than last time."

"Mmmmm," responded Trip sleepily. "Next we'll work on findin' another new use for mashed potatoes."

***

Malcolm sat on the floor, leaning back against Trip's legs. "How's that pasta?" asked Trip, sitting on the bench seat behind him.

"Actually, it's quite good." Or maybe, thought Malcolm as he ate, after two days of having Trip to himself he was just feeling much more charitable to all things in the universe. "How's yours?"

"Ain't really sure what part of the pig this is," answered Trip. "Let me have some of that," he said, leaning down towards Malcolm.

"Not a chance. You picked out the pork surprise, now you have to eat it." Malcolm held the dish out of Trip's reach.

Trip wrapped a leg around Malcolm. "That's an order, Lieutenant," he growled.

Malcolm began chuckling and started to slide out from under Trip's leg when the shuttle's alarm systems went off. Before they could scramble to their feet the floor beneath them lurched. They were both thrown across the small space, pasta and pork flying everywhere.

"That was some kind of weapons fire," shouted Malcolm. He made his way to his station, tapping the screens frantically to get more information.

"Two ships just dropped out of warp," added Trip. "One looks to be a Klingon vessel. I think the other vessel is Nausicaan? How's the hull plating?"

"Still polarized. We didn't take much damage, we were just at the edge of the blast zone." Malcolm heart stopped as the readouts indicated the Klingon vessel was powering up weapons again. "Shit. They are going to fire again. We'll never survive a direct hit."

The damaged Nausicaan ship was heading towards them. Malcolm didn't have to look at his sensors, he could see the ships directly out the front viewport. The Klingon vessel fired with a blinding flash.

"Hang on!" shouted Trip. As the shuttle rocked, more alarms sounded. The lights flickered, and the screens all went blank. Trip slapped his console in frustration. After a moment the backup power went on and the readouts returned. Trip leaped from his chair to check something near the center of the shuttle.

"How are they?" asked Malcolm tensely, knowing that Trip was checking the oxygen supply.

"Intact." The relief in his voice was unmistakable.

Malcolm went back to his sensors. "The Nausicaan ship is—damn—it's completely destroyed," he said, stunned. Debris was floating in its place. "And the Klingon ship just went back into warp."

"Thank God for small favors," commented Trip. "I really wasn't in the mood to deal with them now. We're safe, but we lost our primary sensor array. And communications. Must have overloaded." Continuing with his diagnostics, he added, "Crap. I might be able to repair the communications, but the sensor situation doesn't look good."

Malcolm looked at his readouts, confirming that while they weren't exactly flying blind, they were pretty damn close to it. "Great. That will do wonders for our scans of the comet."

Trip did not respond, and Malcolm saw that he was busy with something at his station. Then Trip called out, "Hey, there's a small inhabited planet, called Melar, about one day away," he said. "According to the Vulcan database there's some sort of manufacturing facility there, maybe we can get parts."

"Do you think that's wise?" asked Malcolm. "Maybe we should just head back to the Enterprise. It would be safer."

Trip shook his head. "Where's the fun in that? It would at least give us a chance to do a little exploring. Even if we head straight back to the Enterprise we would never make it to the comet before it gets too close to the sun."

"Then Melar it is," agreed Malcolm, feeling uneasy.

Part II

Malcolm sat at the large glossy black table with Trip and the alien, half-listening to them trying to strike a bargain. Looking out the window he could see the monotonous landscape of the planet, largely uninhabited, rocky and lifeless. They had been directed to land near the site of the single industrial complex, which seemed to go on forever beneath the surface. He wondered what they manufactured here. Their host, Amel, was evasive on the subject. Whatever we can sell, he answered, with a flick of his tongue. Something about the alien disturbed Malcolm. He did not like the thought of how vulnerable they were, unarmed, with no starship to back them up should something go wrong.

"OK then. Starcharts in exchange for the parts?" confirmed Trip.

"It's a deal,' said Amel. The alien's large, bulging green eyes rolled towards Malcolm. "Are you sure we can't interest you in anything else? Particle weapons, perhaps?" The wet tongue lolled out of his large mouth again.

Trip cut in before Malcolm could speak. "No, thanks, we just need to get back on the road as soon as possible."

Malcolm sighed. He'd like to have at least seen what they had to offer. Even if he didn't really trust the creature. He was a Ranid, a race Malcolm had never seen before. His appearance was so frog-like that Malcolm was on the verge of offering him dead flies in return for parts. Joke would be on him if Amel accepted.

They spent the next two hours looking through endless parts and circuits. It was clear to him that Trip was enjoying himself tremendously, unable to contain his enthusiasm for the various items available. Malcolm found watching Trip far more entertaining examining yet another finely crafted part.

Eventually they left the warehouse and entered another one of the seemingly endless tunnels, and came to a room with a long, glowing, pulsating tube running down a large open shaft.

"What is that?" asked Malcolm, distracted by the glowing light and the hum.

The alien rolled his moist eyes over to where Malcolm was pointing. "Oh, that." With a wave of his webbed green hand, he explained, "That is part of our central core unit."

"It's part of the power source for this facility?" Evidently Trip was curious, too. They went over and looked at it more closely, leaning over the waist-high railing. The shaft continued down, further than they could see.

"Indeed. Now, if you'll please excuse me, I will see to getting your items prepared. Meet me back here in escihns eiffew bwardo." Suddenly the alien became unintelligible as the UT struggled to translate the time period. After extended conversing and gesturing, the three of them agreed on four hours.

***

They wandered through the large humming complex, looking at the intricate pattern of pipes snaking through the corridors, boxes and crates stacked in various alcoves. How perfectly dreary, thought Malcolm, eyeing the gray walls and floor. The air smelled musty and old. The occasional Ranid bustled past, usually carrying boxes or bottles. No one gave them a second look, so they continued walking through the gray corridors.

"I wonder what they really do here," commented Malcolm.

Trip shrugged. "Manufacture stuff? I wonder what it would cost us to have some replacement parts made to order for the Enterprise. Ship's been taking a beating. Couldn't hurt to stock up on our power relays," he added thoughtfully.

"I think we really should see what kind of weaponry is available," said Malcolm, trying not to sound too sulky. If the ship gets blown out of space all the power relays in the universe won't help them, he thought.

"Malcolm, you are so single-minded," said Trip, turning to trot down an open staircase.

Malcolm threw his hands up in frustration and followed him. They reached the bottom and found themselves in another gray corridor, identical to the one above.

"Let's see what's in here." Trip dragged him into a small alcove, hidden from view of the main corridor.

"Trip, it's an empty—" Malcolm was cut off in mid-sentence by a kiss. "Mmmm." Trip's hands were working their way around his body, one sliding down to cup his ass. Trip went on to nibble on his earlobe, causing Malcolm to sigh gently. The sensation was marvelous, sending shivers down his spine. Their hips pressed together, and Malcolm reached for Trip's head to kiss him more urgently. They both stopped at the sound of voices in the hall.

Trip peered around the entrance, then ducked back in, pulling Malcolm with him. "What is it?" whispered Malcolm, suddenly on alert.

"Some Vulcans, I think." murmured Trip. "And others, I couldn't see 'em."

"And why are we hiding?" inquired Malcolm.

"Do you really want the damn Vulcans to know we are having problems? Last thing I want is their help." Trip spoke heatedly, his voice getting louder.

"Shhhh." Malcolm could agree with that.

The voices were getting closer. They pressed flat against the wall, and Malcolm was able to see the backs of the Vulcans as they went past. One Vulcan. Then two armed Ranids, with a smaller man in between them, in shackles. Their prisoner had blue skin and antennae. As the prisoner passed, an antenna twitched, and the Andorian began to turn towards the alcove, only to be roughly pushed forward by his guards.

With a shock Malcolm realized it was Shran.

"Did you see who that was?" asked Malcolm, after the procession rounded a turn.

"Shran, right?" Trip asked. He was heading out after them.

"Where do you think you are going?" asked Malcolm, yanking on Trip's arm.

Trip pulled his arm free and cautiously entered the hallway. The group had gone down the next level. "Just want to see where they are taking him."

"Great," groaned Malcolm. He hurried to catch up as Trip began creeping down the stairs.

Following the aliens was not as difficult as Malcolm had feared, the winding corridors and stacked crates providing ample cover, and the hum of machinery effectively masking their sounds. There seemed to be no one else wandering on the lower levels. Finally the Vulcan and his prisoner entered a round chamber with several consoles and display panels. Some sort of control center, thought Malcolm, or maybe a sick bay?

He watched curiously as the two Ranids pushed Shran into a small alcove, the Vulcan standing by impassively, Shran glaring at him. The taller frog pulled out a small instrument and pressed it against the blue man's arm. The Andorian's antennae jerked, but his expression did not change. The vial filled with a blue fluid. As soon as it was finished the second Ranid lifted Shran's shirt, yanked on his trousers, and pushed a small device briefly to his hip. The Andorian grunted and struggled to get away from the man but his efforts were futile. Then the aliens moved in front of Shran and Malcolm's view was effectively blocked for a few minutes.

"That should be enough for the baseline," said the Vulcan. "I expect you to have the virus ready for testing tomorrow."

The green alien nodded, then removed the shackles from Shran, the other alien training a gun on him. They backed away, and the Vulcan tapped at a panel. The edge of the alcove lit up, and Malcolm heard a soft humming noise. A force field, Malcolm realized.

"You can kill me, but you can't kill us all," snarled Shran. "We will have justice before peace!" he yelled at the back of the three men as they left the room, opposite from where Trip and Malcolm were hiding. They gave no sign that they heard him. Shran then cautiously reached out and touched the slightly shimmering light along the alcove entrance. There was a loud snapping sound and Shran jerked back, shouting words that Malcolm's UT could not translate, but their meaning was quite clear.

Trip was pulling Malcolm away. Looking furtively over his shoulder, he dragged Malcolm into a room filled with small bottles, alien writing on the labels.

"They're gonna kill him," said Trip

Malcolm knew this was coming. "Trip, what can we do? I don't like this any better than you, but it's not our place to interfere."

"Malcolm! They are testing some sort of virus on him. I'll betcha it ain't no vaccine." Trip began pacing in the small space. "I can't imagine that Vulcan High Command would condone this sort of thing. Or, at least, I'd like to think they wouldn't."

The entire concept made Malcolm rather queasy. "There is certainly evidence that the Vulcans broke the peace accord in the past."

"And Shran helped us rescue the Cap'n and T'Pol. It's not right we just leave him here to be tortured and killed."

"I know, I know." Malcolm had a grudging respect for the alien freedom fighter. Was there any way to get the man off the planet without getting killed in the process? "Trip, think about the Captain. The Vulcans will not be very happy with him. He'll be the one taking the heat." Feeling uneasy, Malcolm wished the communications array was already repaired on the shuttle.

"The Vulcans are already pissed at him. And they aren't our parents. We should be free to do what we think is right." He looked beseechingly at Malcolm. "Listen. I'm not ordering you to do anything. But just for a moment stop thinkin' about what would be the proper thing to do," he said, then grabbed Malcolm's shoulders and looked him in the eye, "and tell me what you feel, deep down, is the right thing to do."

Malcolm could see the conviction in Trip's face. The man was so sure, so certain. He practically ran his life on gut instinct, Malcolm realized. He wished he could be so certain. Always second-guessing himself, he felt as though he could not trust anything his gut told him. Trip watched him eagerly, waiting for his response. Malcolm decided he would trust Trip's instinct.

"OK. First off, we need to get the shuttle parts and finish the repairs. Then we get Shran out of there. And somehow back to the shuttle."

Trip grinned and slapped his arm in delight. Malcolm sighed heavily. Great, now they were planning a jailbreak. What could go wrong?

Part III

They quietly entered the chamber where Shran was being held. So far so good, thought Malcolm. The shuttle was ready to go. No one had seen them re-enter the facility. He wondered about the lack of guards.

Shran jumped up from the floor when he saw the two men. "Pink-skins. I knew you were all in this together," he said with great disdain, antennae twitching.

"You bloody fool, we're—" Malcolm stopped as he heard a voice from the corridor on the other side of the room. He spun around to see two well-armed Ranids pointing weapons at him and Trip. How did such big creatures move so silently? Reluctantly they gave up their phase pistols to the creatures.

"I'm so sorry, I did not think it important to let you know we had visitors…" Amel sounded contrite as he followed the Vulcan into the room, his wide, webbed feet slapping the floor.

Trip strode up to face the Vulcan. "Who are you? And just what the hell are you up to here?" he demanded to know.

The Vulcan ignored him, instead turning to the Ranids, "Lock them up. I'll deal with them later." And left the room without a second glance their way.

***

"That went well," said Malcolm wearily. He was leaning against the wall, feeling like a complete idiot.

"So is this all a part of your clever plan to rescue me?" asked Shran, looking disgusted. He shook his head. "You earthlings have a lot to learn." He rubbed his arm where the blood sample had been taken. Malcolm noticed it had bruised to a dark blue.

"Hey, we don't need that kind of attitude from you," warned Trip, turning to face him. "We were tryin' to keep you from gettin' killed."

Malcolm turned from the arguing men and looked at the force field intently. He was unfamiliar with the technology, but wondered if there was any way to overload it. Sure, he thought, maybe if we all throw ourselves at it. He was nearly desperate enough to suggest it.

"And now I'm stuck in here with you two," said Shran. "As if my life weren't miserable enough."

"Keeping going and I can make it even more miserable," said Trip, his voice low, dangerous.

Maybe the frogs, thought Malcolm. Everyone has his or her price. Even a Ranid. Not that they had much to offer in return, but a bribe might be a feasible way out.

"…And I'm just saying I'm getting a little sick of your belligerent blue-skinned attitude," yelled Trip.

Malcolm couldn't think straight anymore. He spun around and roared at the two men, "WILL YOU BOTH JUST SHUT THE HELL UP?"

Shran and Trip both fell silent, Trip looking contrite, Shran, surprised, antennae motionless. Good. At least Malcolm had their attention. Time to get down to business. "Shran, what do you know about these Ranids?" he asked.

The blue man shook his head. "Very little. They will buy and sell almost anything." He paused. "I came looking for weapons. Now I realize it had been a setup from the start. They have obviously been working on something here for quite some time."

Trip was scratching his head. "Do you think we have anything they could possibly want? That they couldn't get already from the Vulcans?"

"I doubt it. The Vulcans are paying them well for their biological work. Although," started Shran thoughtfully, then stopped.

"Well? Spill it," ordered Malcolm.

With an odd look on his face, Shran continued. "The taller one, Nuvall…" At prompting from the two men he took a deep breath and continued. "It indicated it had a different sort of interest in me. A more personal one."

Trip and Malcolm exchanged curious looks. It?

Noting their expression Shran explained, "The Ranids are hermaphrodites."

"Really? Well, what did it—Nuvall, do?" asked Trip.

Shran swiveled an antenna towards him. "It…explored me while taking the samples. And," he continued, rubbing his neck, "it licked me." He looked faintly ill at the memory. Malcolm shuddered. He wouldn't want that thick, bulbous tongue anywhere near his body.

Trip, however, was struggling to keep a straight face. It was clear he did not share Malcolm's sympathy.

"You find that amusing?" growled Shran to Trip, approaching him menacingly. He suddenly seemed far taller.

"Wait—we might be able to work this to our advantage," interjected Malcolm as quickly as he could.

Now Shran spun and glared at him. "I am NOT seducing that—that—thing."

"Malcolm, if this is going to require Shran to be charming, I don't think it has a chance in hell of working," added Trip.

Malcolm had to step between them again. "Listen, you just need to get him to turn off the force field," he pleaded. "Then we'll do the rest."

Shran laughed derisively. "Your so-called rescue attempts are going to end up with me having that thing's tongue up my ass."

Now there was an interesting image. Malcolm shook his head, finding the vision strangely compelling. Why was he thinking about that? He really needed to get off this planet. "This will work," said Malcolm.

Soon afterward their alien arrived, carrying three large bowls. The smell was awful.

Shran marched up close to the force field, directly across from the alien. "Nuvall, you've got to get me away from these pink-skins. They are making me crazy. That one," he said, pointing to Trip, "won't shut up."

Nuvall rolled his eyes over to Malcolm and Trip. "I can't do that, there is no second unit prepared."

"There must be something you can do." Shran was getting closer to the force field, his voice deepening. "I would be most…grateful."

"Hey, I don't see why he should get special treatment," complained Trip, with an effectively irritating whine.

Nuvall tilted his head questioningly. "How grateful?"

Malcolm's heart leaped. This plan might actually work, he thought with wonder.

Shran slid a hand across his stomach, then moved it down to his groin, touching himself. "I'll do anything. Just get me away from them," he whispered desperately.

Nuvall thought for a moment, stroking his almost non-existent chin with his webbed fingers. He looked Shran up and down, tongue lolling. Malcolm held his breath, waiting. Finally Nuvall nodded, trained his weapon on Malcolm and Trip, and then tapped at the console.

As the field powered down, Shran remained motionless. "Are you sure it's off?" he asked, looking convincingly timid.

The creature nodded, and moved closer to Shran to encourage him to walk forward. As he rolled his eyes back towards the Andorian, Malcolm launched himself at the creature's knees, knocking him over, sending the weapon flying. In an instant Shran had the gun, took a second one from Nuvall and they quickly put the struggling Ranid into the cell as Trip re-activated the field.

"I feel as though I need a shower now," muttered Shran to himself.

Hastily Malcolm batted down the unbidden mental picture.

***

They made it almost to the upper level before they were discovered. With the Ranids in hot pursuit they reached the final set of stairs. The weapon fire from the Ranids made a sizable hole in the wall directly in front of Malcom. The aliens were shooting to kill. He nearly flew up the stairs, three at a time, as Trip fired above his head at the aliens below. He rounded the corner, breathless, to find Shran standing over two unconscious aliens. Shran tossed him one of the powerful weapons, the other to Trip. Then he patted them down for more goods.

"This way," called Trip, and they followed him through the long empty corridor. Malcolm recognized the room by the reactor shaft behind the railing. Suddenly more aliens burst into the room from the far door, training their weapons onto Trip and Shran. Malcolm jumped up onto the railing and pointed his weapon at the shaft, about to pull the trigger. Killing the power ought to create a decent diversion, he thought.

"Wait!" The Ranid's voice had a frantic note to it.

They all stood for a moment. Malcolm saw Trip and Shran with their hands up, the weapon muzzles inches from their chests. The two Ranids were looking at him with what could have been shocked looks on their amphibian faces. Malcolm's trigger finger itched.

"You wouldn't—" stuttered the Ranid holding Trip at bay. He blinked rapidly. "That would blow up the entire facility—destroy the place for miles around."

Blow up? He had no idea. His body froze. He had almost pulled the trigger. He did his best to remain calm, only allowing a small smile to show on his face. He didn't trust himself to speak. He hoped his arm wasn't trembling as he pointedly raised it higher and leaned closer to the pulsing tube.

The two aliens looked at each other, uncertain of what to do next. "He's bluffing," stated the Ranid closest to Malcolm.

"I wouldn't be so sure," said Trip. "I really don't know just what he's capable of, once he's pissed off. He's kinda squirrely that way. "

They all stood for a moment. Malcolm's arm began to ache. Then the first Ranid lowered his weapon, shaking his head in disgust. Trip and Shran snatched the weapons away. Malcolm lowered his gun, leaped down off the railing and tried to breathe. He was startled by a slap on his shoulder, and looked up in time to see Shran give him a sly smile. "Very impressive, pink-skin."

Part IV

Somehow they made it safely to the shuttle. Malcolm sat down heavily. He felt nauseous, thinking how close he had come to killing them all. Idiot. Bloody idiot. He forced himself to work the controls, getting the shuttle the hell out of there, while Trip and Shran scanned the sector and decided on a course.

"You OK there?" asked Trip, noticing Malcolm's discomfort. He came to stand behind Malcolm, hand on his shoulder, giving him a squeeze. "I think you gave them a real good scare. I didn't think those two Ranids could get any more bug-eyed…."

Malcolm snorted with laughter, feeling a little better. They survived, hadn't they? Despite his bungling. He relaxed in his seat, reached for Trip's hand, kissing his palm before he remembered they were not alone.

The Andorian was gazing thoughtfully at the two men. "You know, the Vulcans," he sneered as he said the word, "the Vulcans love to point out to us how illogical our same sex relationships are. To them it's just further evidence of our primitive and unreliable nature."

Trip kept his arm on Malcolm, affectionately stroking his shoulder. "I'm pretty damn sure the Vulcans already feel that way about us. And anyway, what would you expect from a race that only has sex once every seven years?"

This time it was Shran's turn to snort. "Good point. So I gather humans do things a little differently?"

Malcolm looked at Shran speculatively. "Very differently," he replied. He was definitely intrigued by the alien. The small blue man possessed a certain energy and intensity that he found very appealing. He wondered what Trip thought of the man. At least they had stopped arguing. That was a step in the right direction.

***

As Trip transmitted a coded signal to the nearest Andorian vessel, Malcolm sat on the bench seat, turning the energy weapon over in his hands.

"Just watch it with that thing, we don't need a hole in the shuttle floor," warned Trip over shoulder.

Malcolm rolled his eyes. He knew how to fire the damn thing, but that was the extent of it. He was aware of Shran settling in the seat next to him. The alien reached over and turned the weapon again. Malcolm was very aware of the strong thigh pressed against his.

"Here, this is the power pack," Shran explained, sliding a hidden lever, which released a small, tubular object. He slid open a another tiny compartment holding spare power sources. His hand brushed against Malcolm's as it held the weapon.

Under Shran's direction Malcolm worked the various components. It was a lovely weapon. But he found himself distracted as he watched the strong blue hands move along the gun on his lap. Finally one of those hands came to rest on his thigh. He turned his head to see the alien smiling broadly at him. Malcolm noted the obvious bulge in Shran's pants and couldn't help but smile back. The situation was getting interesting, he thought.

Malcolm wasn't the only one who noted Shran's growing interest. Trip stalked across the small space, grabbing Shran's arm and yanking him out of his seat. "What do you think you're doing?" he growled.

Shran merely chuckled. "I was assuming you'd join us," he explained. Then he pulled Trip's head down and kissed him, soundly, on the lips.

Malcolm stared in surprise. It was a bold tactic he hadn't considered. Shran had apparently gauged Trip well, because instead of reacting violently, Trip kissed him back, pulling the small blue man closer. Malcolm watched, enthralled by the sight of his lover kissing the alien.

Finally Trip pushed Shran away, but did so gently. Malcolm found the befuddled look on his face endearing. He really hadn't considered it at all, Malcolm realized.

Before Trip could say anything Malcolm leaned forward and whispered into Trip's ear "C'mon, think about it." It was very erotic to watch the alien kiss his lover—he wanted to see more.

Trip turned to look at him searchingly. "Malcolm—you sure about this?"

Malcolm found himself repeating his lover's earlier words "Deep down inside, what do you feel is the right thing to do?" Malcolm's hand brushed against part of Trip's anatomy while gently nibbling on his neck.

Trip began to grin, and shook his head in dismay at Malcolm. "You sure do pick odd times to quit being so proper."

Shran had been watching their interaction with keen interest. "I'm starting to find you pink-skins very interesting. But if you're not…up to it…". He deliberately turned Malcolm's head towards him and kissed him.

The kiss was electrifying, harsher than Trip's, more commanding and invasive. It stopped suddenly as Trip pulled Shran away, wrapping his arms around Shran's shoulders from behind.

"Your ass is mine, little man," he growled.

"We'll see," challenged Shran, as his laughter rang through the small shuttle, a genuine laugh this time.

Malcolm and Trip both worked together to dispense with his clothing. From behind, Trip lifted his shirt off, and Malcolm took advantage of the opportunity to kiss the hard, blue chest, the downy blond hairs tickling his nose. He noted the scars and bruises—evidence of a difficult existence. He wondered if Shran had a regular lover, if he had an opportunity for such luxuries.

Kneeling, he undid the alien's pants and slid them down. Shran's thick, dark blue cock sprang free, surrounded about the base by more of the soft, blond hair. It was hot to the touch, and Shran made a deep, low sound when Malcolm wrapped his hands around it. As Malcolm ran his tongue over and around the tip he was rewarded by a sudden gasp and thrusting of the hips. The alien cock tasted different, but not unpleasant.

When he stood he was treated to the sight of Trip nibbling on the side of the Shran's neck, and left them to carry on as he took a moment to grab a blanket and mat from the storage bin. He spread it out on the widest part of the shuttle's narrow floor. He also grabbed the lube he had brought in his case of personal supplies.

Mission completed, he turned back to his lovers and saw Trip stepping out of his uniform, tossing aside his boots and pants in one graceful move. Shran reached out to him and ran his hand over the broad chest. "Pink." He rubbed his thumb over a nipple. "Very pink—oh—"

Malcolm had wandered behind Shran and was working the back of the alien's neck with his lips and tongue, hands grasping his firm, round ass. Trip reached out past Shran's head, touching Malcolm on the cheek. They kissed across the alien's shoulder, pressing him between their bodies.

"You know Malcolm, if you had suggested this an hour ago I would have thought you had gone completely crazy," marveled Trip. They continued for some time with Shran between them, attending to their appreciative guest with hands, fingers, lips, tongues.

The two men focused their attention on Malcolm next, removing his uniform, boots, and pushing him down to the floor. Shran paused at the sight of the bright blue Starfleet briefs. "Nice color." He yanked them off.

Malcolm chuckled, then yelped as Shran bit his thigh. As the alien proceeded to make an only slightly more gentle exploration of the region, Trip sucked and chewed on his nipples. Malcolm lay back, groaning ecstatically, running his fingers through Trip's hair. As the pleasure began to build he frantically reached out to stop the alien.

"Wait—I'm too close—" he blurted out.

Shran and Trip both stopped what they were doing in time. Trip gave Malcolm a quick kiss, and, quick as a cat, was on top of Shran. He lay on the blue back, his penis nestled into the crack of his ass. Malcolm watched as Shran unsuccessfully tried to push up and dislodge the larger man.

"Didn't you hear me the first time, Andorian? I said, your ass is mine," said Trip. "Malcolm, could you hand me the stuff?

Malcolm retrieved the lube for his lover, and assisted in getting Shran slick and ready. They both pushed their fingers, slick with lubricant, into his tight blue hole. Shran grunted in pleasure during the procedure, his antennae slowly twisting back towards them. Malcolm then lovingly greased Trip's cock, kissing his lover's mouth as he did so. Finally he was treated to the amazing sight of Trip's penis disappearing into that lovely blue ass. Shran clenched his fists and shouted out his pleasure. Trip thrust into him again and again. Malcolm was enjoying the sight of the heaving, well-muscled bodies, running one hand down Trip's sweaty back, kissing him, the other hand stroking Shran's shoulder, then moving to carefully stroke an antenna, so strange, so alien. Then Malcolm greased his fingers and slid them into Trip's pumping ass, feeling the tightness inside.

"Malcolm- shit, that feels too good-." Trip began thrusting harder, faster, a few more strokes and he came, collapsing on top of the blue alien.

Eventually he rolled off and lay on his back, still panting. Shran reached over and nipped at his throat. Malcolm was happy to see that the alien was still hard, and handed him the lube.

"Are you sure?" asked Shran eagerly. Malcolm nodded, pleased at Shran's enthusiam. Shran swiftly turned him around, positioning him so that he was on his knees, with his arms and upper body resting on the bench seat. Malcolm groaned as he first felt the fingers probing him, getting him ready. The sensation was exquisite and he grasped at the cloth on the seat cushion, trying to maintain control. The pressure increased as more fingers went in. He trembled, resting his forehead on his arms. He could see, out of the corner of his eye, Trip watching them. He suddenly felt uncomfortable, exposed. Then Shran began sliding his cock into him, and he forgot about everything but the fantastic sensation of having the alien sliding into his ass.

Shran slowly pushed all the way in, then wrapped his arms around his chest and nuzzled his back, gasping. "Alright?" he asked breathlessly.

Malcolm turned his head. "More than alright," he somehow managed. He felt so good, so wonderfully full, the pleasure nearly unbearable. Trip moved closer to him, stroking his face. Malcolm kissed the hand as it went past his lips.

Shran began thrusting deep into him, now holding Malcolm's hips firmly. He growled softly as he picked up speed, reaching to stroke Malcolm's penis. He played with it gently, teasing, moving his hand away to stroke his chest, then moving back to squeeze the sensitive tip. Malcolm let out a yelp, about to come, when the blue hand moved away again. Desperate, Malcolm reached down to stroke himself but Shran stopped thrusting, grabbed Malcolm's arm and placed it back on the seat, holding it there. Malcolm let out a small cry of dismay.

Shran gave a little laugh, deep in his throat. "Not yet. I'll let you know when." He then took a deep breath and resumed his movements. He thrust into Malcolm harder and harder, and after what felt like an eternity, grasped Malcolm's cock firmly. Immediately, Malcolm came with a yell, pleasure exploding in his body. A moment later Shran's thrusts became more erratic and he pumped one last time, crying out his pleasure, and grabbing Malcolm's shoulders tightly as he came.

Malcolm was glad for the support of the seat. He leaned against it, eyes closed, totally spent, sweat trickling down his back. He felt Shran slip out of him, then turn him around by the shoulders to kiss him. A moment after the kiss ended another one began. This time he recognized the owner of the mouth to be Trip.

Trip finished kissing him and Malcolm opened his eyes to look into his lover's face. Trip's eyes were gleaming. He gently turned him back towards the seat. "Are ya doin' OK?" he asked, kneeling behind Malcolm, then rubbed his face against Malcolm's. He lifted Malcolm's hips and poised his penis against his opening. "Ready for more?" His voice was sweet, caressing.

"Always," murmured Malcolm. He felt himself being pulled back, onto Trip's penis, being stretched and filled again, until his ass hit Trip's legs. They stayed that way, Trip running his hands along Malcolm's body, his tongue licking the sweat off his neck.

Trip whispered in his ear, "I really liked watching you being fucked by an alien, you know that? But don't you forget," he said, his voice growing more gruff, "you belong to me". With that Trip pushed Malcolm forward and began pumping into him. Malcolm grabbed the seat in front of him, murmuring Trip's name. Tried to tell him that he knew he belonged to him. The words wouldn't come. He gave up, groaning and whimpering, lost in pleasure, just wanting Trip to keep fucking him forever.

He didn't know he had gotten hard again until Trip reached down to grasp his cock. Then Shran was next to him, blue hand joining Trip's, wrapped around his shaft. Malcolm began thrusting into the joined hands, harder and harder. His movements brought Trip over the edge, crying out as he spasmed and pumped furiously into Malcolm. Then Malcolm came for a second time, his body shaking in a long series of spasms that seemed to go on forever. He leaned against the seat, the weight of Trip's body pressed against him, dizzy and breathless. His body felt liquid, as if he might seep down between the molecules of the shuttle and drift slowly out into space.

——-

Malcolm woke to the soft chime of the shuttle's notification alert. He could barely move, caught under a tangle of arms and legs, some pink, some blue. The chime repeated, and the Andorian woke, moving to sit up groggily. Trip merely shifted his weight as to pin Malcolm down even more.

Shran got to his feet gracefully and walked over to the shuttle controls, tapping at the panel thoughtfully.

"My ship is approaching. Should be here soon," he said, yawning.

Malcolm, having divested himself of Trip, yawned in return. He propped himself up on his elbows, admiring the sight of the naked alien. "What a shame." He sat up gingerly, wincing as he did. He would have liked to have a couple more days with the man. He was stiff and sore, but had enjoyed himself thoroughly.

Shran nodded, his antennae twitching. "I appreciate that, pink-skin."

Next to Malcolm, Trip was struggling to his feet and slipped into the seat at the controls, still naked. "About 40 minutes to arrival." he confirmed. He looked at Malcolm. "Who's making the coffee?"

They spent the intervening time cleaning themselves and the shuttle, and eating. Shran devoured several of the rations, seeming to enjoy them so much Malcolm was tempted to give him the rest to take with him. He wondered what Andorian food was like. He realized they knew so little of each other's culture. But then the Andorian ship arrived.

As Shran left he paused outside the airlock and turned towards Malcolm and Trip. "Lieutenant; Commander," he nodded to them. "Thank you." Malcolm knew those were words that did not come easily to the man. Then the Andorian slipped through the airlock, and was gone.

***

Trip laid in the coordinates for the Enterprise, and Malcolm watched him curiously. Now that they were alone, he wondered how his lover felt about their liaison with the alien. He didn't have long to wait.

"Malcolm," he said, a small smile playing on his lips. "That was definitely a new kinda experience for me."

"Never had sex with more than one partner?" asked Malcolm.

"Nope. Seems to me though, you're familiar with this kind of activity?"

"A bit," he said vaguely. "Does that bother you?" Malcolm became worried. Was Trip disgusted with him, now that the heat of the moment was past?

Trip shook his head, chuckling. "Malcolm, don't be so paranoid." He leaned toward him, elbow resting on his console. "I'm not offended. You don't seem to realize that I don't want you to be anyone other than who you are.

"But is that enough?" The words came out before he could stop them. He stared down at his console, unable to meet Trip's eyes.

"Malcolm—," Trip sighed. "Malcolm, would you look at me?" Reluctantly Malcolm turned his head at looked into his lover's face across the small shuttle interior. Trip continued, "Yes. I meant what I said. I want you, period. Just the way you are. Now do you understand me?" His tone was gently scolding.

Malcolm saw the honesty in Trip's face and knew that he meant it. "Yes Sir," he said lightly, trying to cover his sudden embarrassment. He shouldn't be so needy, he thought.

They were silent for a moment, then Trip slid a sideways glance at him and said, "I really did have a good time. It was pretty hot seeing another man make you come. Even if I did get a bit jealous."

Malcolm was glad to switch to a subject he was more comfortable with. "Jealous? Despite the fact his ass was full of your cum?"

Trip was grinning. "Yeah, well…" he shrugged. Then the grin vanished. "But he was, you know, pretty well-endowed for a small guy."

"Don't worry, Trip, yours is bigger."

They were both startled by the sound of a communication from Enterprise. Hoshi was inquiring as to why they were off course, and were they in need of assistance?

Trip and Malcolm exchanged glances. Malcolm gestured towards the comm. "All yours, Commander Tucker." There were times he was quite happy with his rank.

Part IV

Malcolm stood watching the captain shake his head as he paced before them in the cramped Ready Room. "All I did was send you two off to see a comet," he muttered, almost to himself.

"Cap'n, it's not like we planned any of this, it just," Trip paused, looking for the right words. "I guess you had to be there, but not doing anything seemed like condoning murder." Malcolm gladly allowed Trip to explain their actions to the captain. An admittedly edited version of their actions.

Jon stopped his pacing and waved his hand at Trip. "I'm not criticizing your decision, Trip. I would have done the same thing had I been there."

"I thought so, sir," responded Trip. "Shran did, after all, save both your and T'Pol's lives."

"What's the next move, Captain?" asked Malcolm.

"I won't immediately assume the Vulcan High Command is aware of this program," said Jon. "Do either of you have any idea who that mysterious Vulcan was?"

They both shook their heads. "Cap'n, he barely spoke to us. It was kinda insulting, actually," said Trip.

"It is such a blatant violation of the peace accord…question is, do I bring it up with them or wait for them to acknowledge it first? If they acknowledge it at all? Assuming they are aware of the program?" Jon ran his fingers through his hair, leaving sections of it standing on end.

"Listen, Cap'n, as ranking officer I take full responsibility for our actions. If the Vulcans give you any shit, you make sure to tell them it was me and me alone," said Trip. "Sir." He added belatedly, as if just realizing he was ordering his captain around.

"Trip, that's not—" started Jon.

"Wait, hear me out. I don't want you losin' your command over this. If this blows up in our faces, they can yank my ass outta here and put me back on earth, but I don't want you being punished for something I did." Trip was adamant.

"That's not going to happen, Trip. Believe me, no one is leaving my ship," said Jon.

But Malcolm's head was spinning. It was a consequence he had stupidly never considered. His stomach lurched at the very thought of having hundreds of light years between himself and Trip. He barely heard the rest of the discussion, only the words of the captain dismissing them, telling them not to worry, it will all work out ok. Malcolm wished he could believe that.

He and Trip walked silently to the lift, each lost in his own thoughts. As the lift door closed, Malcolm turned to Trip and said, "If they pull you off the Enterprise I'm going, too."

Trip looked aghast. He hit the hold button the lift, and turned to face him. "Malcolm, that's ridiculous. I mean, it's not gonna happen, but even so, you can't just leave. This is the opportunity of a lifetime—"

"And so are you."

That brought Trip up short, and he just stood staring at Malcolm for a moment. Then embraced him, holding onto him so tightly that Malcolm could barely breathe. "Malcolm," he sighed, "don't worry, it's not going to come to that. Believe me, Jon wouldn't let it happen. So why are you saying such silly things?"

"Because I love you," replied Malcolm into Trip's neck, holding on just as tightly. It was the last thing Malcolm expected to be saying to anyone out here, in the wilds of space.

"I know that, darlin'," replied Trip. "And it's about time you said it. I love you, too."

They stayed in the lift, embracing, for some time.

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