He lay on his back and listened to Malcolm's regular breathing.  He wondered if the other man thought it was strange that he'd followed him to bed, but it wasn't as though Malcolm would ever ask.  The man thought personal questions were untoward, and sometimes that grated at Trip.

The one time he'd been able to get Malcolm to really unbend was when then were drunk and convinced that the Enterprise had been destroyed.  Since then, Malcolm had let his guard down a little, but not on the same level.

He turned on his side so he could see Malcolm's dim figure across the tent.  He certainly had fallen asleep quickly.  Probably a good skill for an armoury officer.

Jon had probably noticed the way he'd flinched at Malcolm's casual pat on the shoulder; the way he'd quickly followed the
other man to bed.  Jon probably had noticed more than that. Hemwondered how much longer he had before he got asked for details. Jon always seemed to know.

T'Pol likely had seen as well, but probably put it down to human vagaries and the physical need for a greater amount of sleep.

Even in the perpetual dark of the planet, Malcolm moved gracefully and with purpose.  Even in sleep, Malcolm was intensely appealing.   He had to face it - he had it bad for the armoury officer.  Unfortunately for him, it didn't look like the feelings were returned.  He'd tried to subtly hint at his interest, but Malcolm was absorbed in his new relationship with Mayweather.   At first he'd wondered if they were exclusive, particularly since he'd learned of Malcolm's appreciation of T'Pol's behind, and his many and varied relationships with women at home.

However, as he'd covertly watched them - and given Malcolm's security skills, he wondered how covert his observation had really been - it became more and more apparent that Malcolm and Mayweather were absorbed in each other.

He certainly couldn't blame Mayweather for his interest in Malcolm.  And, the young ensign  had his intriguing points, even if Trip was reluctant to admit them at the moment.

The fact remained that the two were good to each other, and it hurt to think about.

Malcolm was less than two feet away from him, and it would be so easy to shift a little, reach out, and stroke his face.   To nuzzle into his neck and murmur his affection.   He could so easily straddle Malcolm and kiss him, hard, sweet.    He could imagine Malcolm making an off-colour and slightly snide comment about the purported agility of engineers' hands, and then giving himself up to their abilities.  Sex with Malcolm would be intense and focussed, a reflection of the man himself.  But he figured that Malcolm would relax, that sex would be joyful and fun too.

He wondered about Malcolm's sense of humour while in bed; he wondered what he was like in the morning.  He imagined waking up tangled together, Malcolm warm and musky from the night before.

From his sleeping roll, he caught teases of Malcolm's smell.  He wanted more, a more concentrated scent.

Damn.  Why was he doing this to himself?  He should be out, around the fire, talking to T'Pol and Jon and the aliens.

Instead, he lay, not really trying to sleep, and recalled his favourite memories of the armoury officer.   He smiled to himself at how snippy Malcolm had become while they were installing the phase cannons.   He remembered the surprised look of joy at the presentation of the pineapple cake.  At the time, he'd silently wished that he could coax that expression from Malcolm by himself.  Frequently.

Sneaking through rubble to save the Captain and T'Pol was another favourite memory.  Malcolm had been focussed, calm and so clearly skilled at his job.

He shifted into a more comfortable position and sighed.   It must have been louder than he'd intended, because Malcolm stirred, and muttered, "Trip?"

Damn.  "Sorry.  Can't sleep."

Malcolm reached out and turned on the portable light.  The soft glow highlighted the planes of his face, and it was all Trip
could do to not reach out and touch.   Abruptly he was hard, and intensely grateful that he was thickly wrapped in coverings.

"What's wrong?"  Malcolm sounded like a friend concerned.


"Are you sure?"

He nodded, and came up with the first excuse he could.  "I'm just thinkin' about bugs.  Don't have to deal with that in Engineering."

Malcolm smiled.  "Didn't you have bugs in," his voice took on a teasing tone, "the good ol' south?  Surely you must be used to them."

It was so easy to fall into banter with the man.  "Lieutenant, why do you think I left in the first place?"

A small chuckle warmed him through.  So pathetic.  "Well, I checked the tent before we bedded down.  All clear.  Best try to get some sleep, you don't want to be exploring a new environment when you're over-tired."

He nodded.  "Yeah.  Sorry for wakin' ya."

Malcolm reached out to shut the light off.  "No problem.  Sleep well, Trip."

Yeah.  "You too."

Malcolm again fell asleep quickly, leaving Trip to think about unattainable goals.  Perhaps one day he'd have a shot at Malcolm, but somehow he doubted it.  Still, he could hope.

Meanwhile, he'd take what he could get - a jocular friendship, some teasing words, and the chance to watch Malcolm while he slept.


                        continue to Speculation

Spoilers:  Anything up to Rogue Planet
Pairing:  R/T; R/M
Rating: PG-13
Series/Sequel:  Nope; although I am assuming that Mayweather & Reed have a relationship, it's not linked with my previous R/M fic.

Feedback:  Is a really good thing.
Summary:  Trip's having thoughts.  They're not returned.
Notes:  Who could resist the draw of watching Malcolm pat Trip on the shoulder and go to bed with Trip following him happily?

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