Enforced Vacation


"I can't believe we even have a brig."

Malcolm rolled his eyes, glad Trip's back was to him.  This had to be the fifth time the commander had said that.  "It would be foolhardy for a ship this size and with this mission not to have a brig.  There are a number of reasons why we might need one."

"Huh."  Trip's back was stiff, partly Malcolm guessed because he was angry, and partly because, despite Phlox's tending, he still had to be a little sore.

"For example, we might have to detain hostiles who board the ship."


"We might need to incarcerate a crewmember who attempted treason. It has happened, you know."

"Sure, Malcolm."

"Or we might," he gently prodded Trip into a slightly faster pace, "have to use the brig for senior officers who make the blindingly stupid blunder of allowing themselves to be goaded into a fight with members of a highly important diplomatic mission.  Perhaps, in this little scenario, said senior officer's actions lead to the injury of a chief diplomat--"

"That was an accident!"

" -- that results in a near-catastrophic firefight between Enterprise and the far more advanced ship which transported the previously mentioned highly important diplomats."

With that, Trip turned around, his face flushed with anger. "Look, Malcolm, you were there!  You saw what that jackass was doing. And I didn't mean for the ambassador to get hurt.  If those other guys had just backed off, let us fight it out man-to-man, none of that would have happened."

He reached out and turned Trip forward.  "Keep moving, Commander."

"Why are you being such an ass?"  Trip's frustration was palpable.

"I believe it would be my job to escort you to the brig in a timely manner."

"How come you're not escorting the other guy?"

He kept his voice cold.  "'The other guy' as you so subtly put it, is being escorted to the brig on his own ship.  As you well know."

There was silence for a few steps.  Then,

"Don't you think I'd be better off helping with repairs?"  Trip's voice was now reasonable, coaxing.

Inwardly sighing, he said, "Perhaps so, but until the captain says otherwise, you are confined to the brig."  In reality, he did think the captain was being unusually harsh.  The damage to the ship was extensive, and even as they walked, he blinked his eyes rapidly in response to the residual smoke.  Trip would better help the crew by repairing Enterprise, not serving a token sentence in the brig.

The muttered, "not even my own quarters" almost made him smile.

"At least he let me get the cuts looked after first."

"Indeed.  I suppose you won't be able to state the captain was unusually cruel in deciding your punishment."

"Where the hell is this brig anyway?  It's takin' us forever to get there."

Did the man ever stop complaining?  It was hardly probable that the ship's designers would have placed the brig in a desirable section of the ship.  In any case, Trip certainly knew where the brig was located.   "I hadn't realised you were so eager to be confined to an 8 by 10 cell --"

"Sooner I get there, sooner I get out."

" -- with no one for company except for your guard.  With only emergency rations for food.  With nothing to do but think about your actions."

"Shut up, Malcolm, I don't need your version of the 'I'm disappointed in you speech' too."

Truth be told, he wasn't particularly disappointed.  Trip had made an idiotic mistake, but it had been a mistake, not a series of actions intended to almost get them all killed.  It hadn't been his fault that he'd been endlessly goaded.  In his situation, perhaps Malcolm would have snapped as well.

Well, perhaps not,  but if there was ever the time to admit to himself that he was generally unhealthily self-controlled, now was it.  Sometimes Malcolm thought it would be a relief to be able to react as viscerally as Trip.

They both knew the brig sentence was token, a gesture to ensure the tentative peace that had now resumed between the Enterprise and the aliens.  Still, he understood how frustrating it would be to be in Trip's position.

"Ah well, it's only a day."

"Yes.  Think of it as an enforced vacation.  You know the captain will let you out if there are any repairs only you can handle."

"I guess it's better than our last vacation.  At least this time I'm not handcuffed and in my underpants."

"You could be..."  They arrived at the room that held the brig, and Malcolm keyed the door open.

As they stepped through, Trip turned around again.  "I'm not sure I'd like to make a habit of being stripped down and tied up by well-armed men."

Sheathing his phase pistol, Malcolm opened the cell door.  The bars were the same gunmetal grey as the rest of room.  "Pity." He stepped back.  "In you go, Commander."

"Do you have to be so chipper?"

He chose to ignore the comment, and closed the door behind Trip. Carefully, he sealed everything, and secured the cell.  He also chose to ignore the plaintive, "Aww for cryin' out loud.  Do you have to lock it?  It's not like I'm going anywhere."

He busied himself for a few moments ensuring that the battle hadn't done any damage to the room or the cell's locking mechanisms.  Trip's gaze was a weight on his back.

"So...who's the first guard?"

Straightening, he rolled his eyes again, and turned around.  "I am."  At least for a short time.  He had other duties besides guarding a crew member.  It wouldn't do to leave the captain with a substandard security detail at the moment.  Besides, some of the weapons systems were down, and he couldn't do much to repair them while he was in this isolated location.

Trip flopped gracelessly down on the hard fleet-issue brig cot, his expression what could only be described as 'snarky'.  He winced as his injured shoulder jarred against the wall.  "Great. At least I get some sparklin' conversation."

Inwardly, Malcolm sighed.  Again.

EWB Brig challenge fic response
Rating: PG-13 Category:  pre-slash (R/T) 
Disclaimers: Not my characters. 
Spoilers: Nope
Summary: An 8 by 10 cell.

Notes:  Taryn, thanks for posting this challenge.  It kick-started me back into writing.  Thanks also to Kim who picked up a couple of typos.


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