A day off is an unexpected luxury, but after the detention camp, Travis is happy to indulge.  It was kind of Captain Archer to insist he take some time for himself.  So now he's sitting in the mess hall, alternately reading a novel suggested by Hoshi and staring randomly out at the stars.  It's nice to just relax, to not have to think about the ways people mistreat each other in the name of a twisted kind of justice.

He enjoys spending his time in the mess hall.  His quarters are bare and small, and right now he's not in the mood for feeling closed in.  The ship doesn't have many recreational facilities, but he's used to that.  The mess hall is open and usually quiet, but it doesn't leave him feeling isolated.

He looks away from the stars as the seat next to him shifts. Malcolm is sitting next to him, smiling and holding a mug of what is probably tea.  He smiles back.  "Hi."

"Hello.  Enjoying yourself?"

He nods, and as Malcolm sips his tea, Travis looks him over. Malcolm's back in his own skin, only random soft pink blotches giving away his time masquerading as a Suliban. Travis has never been one to judge lovers - actual or potential -  by their species, but it's still a relief to see Malcolm's hair, his stubble, his slightly pink skin.  "How's your skin?"

Malcolm frowns slightly, but shrugs.  "It's better.  It still itches in some patches." His fingers point to some of the pink blotches.  "More of a tight feeling than anything."

Travis knows all about skin feeling too tight.  Sometimes he feels like he doesn't quite fit in this skin, this uniform.  His skin starts to itch sometimes - when he's out in the open, sun beating down on his face, or when the wind pulls at the fine hairs on his arms.  It's a feeling he never gets when he's at the helm of the ship.

Sometimes when he's around Malcolm, he has to fight the urge to start scrubbing at his skin, to try and find the source of the sudden itch he gets.   It was worse before they admitted their interest in each other.  It's a casual relationship, but now at least when he starts to feel taut this way, he can suggest that he and Malcolm meet later.

He realises he's staring, and Malcolm is frowning slightly at him.  "You looked really different under that skin."  He'd even smelled differently.

Malcolm smiles faintly.  "I looked hideous."

He wouldn't go that far, but he smiles anyway.

"You're unusually quiet today. Everything ok?"

He thinks about it and realises he isn't quite as relaxed as he thought he'd been. "It's fine.  I mean, the detention camp wasn't fun, but..."  He doesn't want to say what's coming next. He's afraid of what it might mean.  "I guess I'm getting used to the way that people treat each other.  It doesn't get to me the way it once would have. I can shake it off more easily."

Malcolm looks down at his tea.  "You think that's a bad thing. You're afraid you're going to become numb to it all."

He doesn't have to answer.

Scrubbing his free hand through his hair, Malcolm sighs.  "It could happen, Travis. I'm not going to tell you it's not a possibility.  There are people it already has happened to.  The fact that you're thinking about it is a good sign.  Just because you don't dwell on things as much doesn't mean that they affect you any less.  You could have been apathetic about helping the Suliban to escape, but you weren't."

He's always glad for Malcolm's straight-forward attitude.  He also thinks this is the longest speech he's ever heard Malcolm make that didn't involve weapons systems.

They sit silently for a while, until Malcolm finishes his tea and stands up.  "Well Ensign, some of us don't have the day off. Enjoy it while you can."


Malcolm smiles down at him and shifts slightly closer.  In a quieter voice he suggests dinner in his quarters.  Travis thinks about licking the slowly fading pink stains on Malcolm's skin, thinks about reacquainting himself with Malcolm's smell.  Malcolm will make him laugh, and it will be the perfect ending to a day off.  He nods.

* * * * *

Eventually he sets aside the novel.  He spends the rest of the afternoon drifting on his own thoughts.  Things have been so hectic lately that he's rarely able to think beyond the next shift, the next emergency, the next time the ship is tested. It's no wonder he feels weighed down today.  It's the first chance he's had to start really thinking about their experiences.

He sometimes wonders what Archer edits from his reports home. Technically there should be no editing, but he'd be a fool to believe that the captain doesn't slant things in certain ways. Not  that he'd do it out of some sinister motive, but Archer is not as naive as he sometimes plays.  They're all doing some editing in letters home and in reports to Starfleet.

What is his family doing right now?  The letters he gets aren't very informative about everyday issues.   Rather, they're filled with questions and praise.

He wonders what they're shipping, and if the cargo is giving them any trouble.  Is it perishable, making everyone tense with the possibilities of delays?  Is it lucrative? Or maybe they've contracted to carry some kind of humanitarian aid to a needy planet. He's seen all of these situations.  No doubt they'll face some kind of problem, but it probably won't involve temporal wars, detention camps, government conspiracies and lies, hostile and unknown aliens or crazed Vulcans.

Cargo ships mean extended families, several generations.  They can be crowded and stifling; full of joy and exciting.  He's used to the crush of other bodies around him, the sharing of space and time.

Enterprise is larger than any cargo ship, and she carries more people.    At first he felt overwhelmed by luxury, but he's gradually becoming accustomed to having his own space, to the range of choices at mealtimes.  Enterprise has yet to deal with rations in a lean time.

The crew is diverse and interesting.  They're regimented in a way cargo ships will never be. They accept him, they challenge him.

They're not family.

He leaves the mess hall before the dinner rush.

* * * * *

Malcolm's quarters are bigger than his own.  They're also neater, but not barren. He'd been surprised the first time he'd arrive here.  Malcolm is so formal that it was sometimes hard to imagine his life outside of the uniform.  He knows he's not the only one to have had such thoughts.  He'd heard Commander Tucker make some teasing remarks about Malcolm, although those seem to have
taken on a more affectionate edge since they were rescued from their stranded shuttlepod.

So he was slightly surprised at the spare grace of the few possessions Malcolm owns; the dark tea set with an Oriental cast, the minimalist painting of a sailing ship, signed by JH Reed, a dark and intricate wall hanging, some weaponry with clean, elegant lines.  Now he's used to them, and he realises how well they suit the man.

Dinner is mainly silent, but not uncomfortably so.  Usually he is much more animated, and Malcolm encourages him to talk about his past, his family, his opinions.  In turn, he's often delighted by Malcolm's sense of humour.  Tonight they just eat, occasionally making inconsequential comments. The meal is good.

Afterwards, Malcolm breaks out a bottle of Altarian brandy, and pours them each a glass of the deep amber liquid.  The glasses are cheap and functional, contrasting in some way with the rest of the room.  They sit as Malcolm talks about weapons and retesting the phase cannons on meteorites.  It makes him smile.

"You just like to blow things up."

Malcolm tosses back what's left of his drink and winks at him. "I think there's a bad pun in there somewhere."

He laughs.   How many people get to see Malcolm's dry wit?

Malcolm waves his empty glass around.  "In any case, there's nothing wrong with a good explosion.  Except, of course, when lives are threatened."  The suitably chastened look on his face is blatantly false, and Travis laughs again.  Malcolm moves his chair closer and pours them both some more brandy.

The alcohol seems to highlight the pink patches on Malcolm's skin.  One peeks out from under his sleeve of his shirt, another darkens beneath Malcolm's left earlobe. Abruptly he's taken by the urge to lick those areas.  He sets aside his glass and reaches across the space separating them.    He's not sure what's on his face, but whatever it is makes Malcolm set his own glass down and stand.

There's an intensity in the room that isn't usually there. They've kept things casual and light, but now...

Travis stands too, pulling his light sweater over his head.  By the time he's done, Malcolm is already half-naked, an anticipatory gleam in his eyes.  Pinkish patches dot his upper chest, one large one covering from his collar bone to the arch of his neck. Inexplicably, it makes Travis' mouth water slightly.

He reaches out, hooks Malcolm through the top of his pants, and pulls him forward.  He strokes lightly above the waistline, small circles with his fingernail.  The puff of a small sigh caresses his ear as he fastens his mouth on the pinkish skin, mouthing at the collar bone.  He obsessively sucks at the entire area, easily immersed in Malcolm's smell, his taste.  He tastes clean, water and salt.

The pinch of teeth on his shoulder make him draw back, but only reluctantly.

"Have you developed a fetish?"  Malcolm's brow is arched, but he is clearly teasing. "If so, I shall ask the doctor to disguise me as a Suliban more often.  Or," a thoughtful look, "perhaps next time I could be Klingon."  A wink.  "It's rumoured they have fascinating ridges along their spines.

He smiles and shrugs.  "I like your skin."  He guides Malcolm towards the smallish bed, in the process removing Malcolm's dark pants and underwear, slipping out of his own. Grinning, he settles himself above his now naked partner, stroking absently across Malcolm's chest.   Soft, Starfleet-issue blankets cushion his knees and calves.

Malcolm's skin is smooth, spattered with slightly rougher patches and the upraised flesh of small scars.  He revels in it, taking time that he normally doesn't indulge himself in.  He charts subtle differences -  the softer skin of nipples, framed by a few crinkled hairs that tickle his lips; the thinner skin at the base of this throat, a hollow which begs to be licked; a set of tiny scars that dot the area just below Malcolm's ribs.  He acquaints himself with all of them, delighting in Malcolm's soft sounds and occasionally impatient words.

Malcolm's hands trace his back and shoulders, alternating strokes with sudden grasps. They follow the line of his spine, kneading at tense muscles.   Arms try to pull him closer, but Travis keeps himself hovering just above Malcolm, denying full body contact. Partly it's  a tease, but he also doesn't want this to end too quickly.

Eventually he moves up for a kiss.  It's dark and sweet, Malcolm's tongue twining with his own, licking at his pallet. Teeth graze his lower lip, and Malcolm succeeds in dragging him down, inducing full body contact.  His cock is cradled in the hollow of Malcolm's hip, brushing soft skin, ratcheting everything up a notch.

Malcolm wraps his left leg around him locking him in place. Moving away from the kiss, they stare at each other briefly, and Travis takes in the sheen to Malcolm's skin, the slightly glazed look of his eyes.   The moment stretches, then Malcolm flips him over, a grin on his face.

"You should be able to block such a rudimentary roll, Travis."

He wrinkles his nose slightly, fights the urge to stick out his tongue.  "Who says I can't?"  Malcolm reaches into the storage compartment under the bed.  Travis watches the elegant movements. Malcolm is as sure of himself and his body naked as he is in uniform and pointing a phase pistol.

Holding a smooth, glass bottle, Malcolm sits back up.  Leaning over, he kisses Travis softly.  The flick of a cap being opened is followed by a slick hand wrapping around his cock and twisting slightly.  Travis pants into Malcolm's mouth in time with the strokes. He tries to remember to flick his tongue against Malcolm's lips, but mostly he's just aware of his own groans.

By the time Malcolm moves away, he's too glazed to do much but watch as the other man slides one, then two fingers into himself. It's incredibly sexy.  He gives Malcolm a few minutes, then gathers his strength.  He rolls the man over onto his back, somehow manages to shove a pillow underneath him, and then he just slides in easily, encouraged in his efforts by the arch of Malcolm's back.

The first few thrusts he manages to keep smooth and gentle.  But Malcolm's legs wrap around him, pulling him close, and he soon loses any desire to drag this out much longer.  The slick slide and push; Malcolm's groans and hissed encouragements; the pleasure so intense it curls his toes, they all draw him in completely.  His head drops forward even further than before, and then he's back to mouthing the large pink stain over Malcolm's collar bone.   Then he's biting it in rhythm with the bursts of sensation.  Malcolm will have a bruise tomorrow to cover the reminder of the detention camp.

Malcolm's harsh breaths seem to echo in the room.  He's jerking his own cock in time with Travis' increasingly ragged movements; his free hand pulls Travis in closer. Knuckles scrape at his belly, and he wants to replace Malcolm's hand with his own, but his arms are barely keeping him up.  Instead he just thrusts harder, pleased at Malcolm's involuntary cry.  Warmth floods over his belly, and Malcolm is pulling his head up and over, and kissing him hard.

A few more minutes, a few twists of his nipples by Malcolm, and then his hips are making tiny, helpless jerks as the pleasure crests.  He collapses, sweaty and filthy, Malcolm's arms wrapped around him.

Eventually he shifts to his side, because Malcolm might be slippery and wiry and the armoury officer, but he's still somewhat slighter than Travis.  He wants to stay tonight, although they don't often spend the night together.

"Why don't you stay?"

He doesn't have any clean clothes.  He has an early shift in the morning.  Malcolm is tracing the lines on his palm with his tongue.  "Ok.  Thanks."

Malcolm laughs a little.  "Thank *you*."  He moves onto his side, one arm falling lightly around Travis' waist.

He wonders how Malcolm feels about going to see old movies.  He makes a mental note to see what's on the schedule.

Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Reed/Mayweather
Warnings:  nope
Spoilers: up to Detained
Disclaimers: Not my characters
Series: Nope. Standalone.
Notes:  Thanks to Kim and Kipli for beta!

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