"Ensign Mayweather, you're early,” T'Pol said. It was very early.
"I couldn't sleep, Commander. Too hot."
"The ambient temperature is 10 C,” she shivered a little.
He sneezed, then again.
"Ensign, I suspect you're coming down with something. You should go to Sick Bay,” she suggested.
"No, I'm, I'm, atchoo! I'm all right,” Travis sneezed six more times.
"Ensign, go to Sick Bay. That's an order."
"Reed, I, I told you that I say things too quickly. And you do, too,” Pamela said.
"I suppose I do,” he admitted, “I just, I feel so much with you. And I don't mean the physicality of it although that is certainly a part of it. It's everything. Come, come here, Sweetheart,” he shivered a little in the chill.
"It's, it's too hot."
"You're always hot, my dear."
"No, I'm really hot,” she complained, “Can you turn the temperature down a little?"
"Sure. But I'll need to put something on. This is far too chilly for me."
"Something that isn't a part of a uniform,” she said, “Those uniforms don't show anything off. Something casual. You do have casual clothing, don't you, Malcolm?"
"Of course,” he put on a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeved tee, “How's this?" he asked, smiling at her a little.
"It's good,” she said, “And you say you're not a good-looking man, but you are
, Malcolm Reed."
"Thank you, love."
"There you go again."
"Well, I just, I think, given what we've said to one another, particularly this evening ...." his voice trailed off.
"And? And isn't it, well, wishful thinking?"
"Perhaps. But, well, these are the kinds of things that people who love each other say, and these are the kinds of things that they, that they do."
"You want very badly for it to happen, don't you?"
"Yes. Do you want it to be, to be love? Do you want that at all, Pamela?"
"I don't know. It's all wrapped up in terror for me. And you already know how my sexuality played out, all bound up with, with what started up almost thirty years ago. The two are wedded now, and I can't break them apart,” she admitted, “I also know that I shouldn't be treating you like a therapist. I never should have told you that. I feel naked."
"You know what I mean, Reed."
"I know. Maybe it is too quick. We leapt into bed as if the world were ending. And it's not. I should have, should have courted you. More than just a sonnet or two. Spent time with you, got to know you well."
"And now you know too much about me. You've got steps one and two and eighty-seven of the formula, and they don't all fit together properly."
"That's true,” he said.
Chip stared at the Communications console, “Commander?"
"Yes, Mr. Masterson?"
"I don't think we have long-range communications."
"Have you performed a diagnostic?"
"I'll contact the captain,” she did.
"Can we, can we set step eighty-seven aside? Warp factor ten, as it were. And perhaps not revisit five KPH but still go back a bit?"
"I still want to be with you. I still want to talk to you and kiss you, make love to you and share my breakfast with you. And I still want to see you after, after you leave. If that's at all possible."
"That's not step two, yanno."
"I know. Perhaps it is irrevocably altered. It's a new path. Can't we tread it together?"
"Don't push it."
"No, I'm not being fair. Let me, let me mull it over,” she said, then changed the subject, “Yanno, we are – the class – we're gonna cook dinner tonight. It’s a special surprise for the crew."
"I make cheesecake. The cheesecake makes the cheesecake."
"You don't like cheesecake?"
"I'll, uh, I'll be all right with it,” he said.
"It's the only thing I know how to make. Blair's the domestic one. She's making pot roast. Don't tell anyone."
"My lips are sealed. Pamela?"
"About the other thing?"
"I'm mulling. You are ... you're a good person. And I am riddled with imperfections, through and through."
"They don't scare me, any more than you having a scar – or my knowing how you got it – scares me."
"We wouldn't see each other much."
"I don't do good with distance,” she said, “Or loyalty. I get tempted way too easily if I'm not careful."
"I, we'll, we'll cross those bridges when we get to them."
"You're being very submissive, Reed. You've mostly been submissive. When are you, when are you going to be, to be dominant?"
Phlox looked at the records again. There were cascade failures throughout the Medical Database. He barely had the chemical formula for aspirin any more.
"Yes. You've even set yourself up as the knave, with me as the Queen. That's complete submission on your part. Is that how you want things to be? I can, I can do that. But I've told you I prefer the trading."
"Then I wish to be dominant right now
"Yes,” he said, approaching her, “I want to call the shots, for the remainder of tonight."
"Oh?" she said, getting interested and meeting him halfway.
"I want to make love to you. Not have hot sex, but make love. And not with scarves or toys or your fingernails raking my back. No teasing, no hair pulling. No clothes on, no odd positions. Facing each other, so that we can kiss and look and breathe together as one,” He put his hand on her face, “Soft, but also hard,” He smiled a little, “Gentle. Careful. With sweet kisses and caressing hands. That is what I want – it's what I demand
of you. Can you do that?" He looked deep into her eyes. She looked fearful.
"Y-yes. I think I can remember how to do that."
He kissed her softly on her mouth, “Good,” He kissed her deeply, hands lightly holding her waist.
She led him over to the bed, “First this,” She came closer.
"You, you want to do that?" he asked, “Most, most women I've been with, they don't like doing that unless it's, it's reciprocal."
"It's a, a gentle way for you to dominate,” she said.
Malcolm was jolted. It was quick but very intense. She definitely knew what she was doing.
"Would you kiss me?" she asked.
"Yes,” he said, doing just that.
She smiled at him, a freer smile than he'd seen before, “Not every guy likes that."
“The whole thing is, I think it was a generous act. You can, you are capable of generosity, you know."
"I guess I am a little bit,” she said, “Doesn't mean I don't like when you do it to me."
"Your wish isn't my command,” he said, “But it would be my pleasure."
Hoshi was up early. Her PADD was flashing. Another note from An.
"No breakfast today, sorry. I don't have an appetite
,” It said.
She coughed a little. Damn
When they finally got together, it was as he'd wanted. Slow. Careful. Deliberate. She was hotly sweating while he was coolly caressing and kissing, but he still felt every catch of her breath, every change. He kissed her smiles, meeting her laughter with his movements, mouth on her shoulder, then back to her mouth. She took her hands away from his waist and put them onto his face, kissing him, breathing into his mouth.
Brian Delacroix walked out into the hallway, making his way along the wall. He was dizzy. The ship was moving too fast. He put his hands up to his face. Felt bumpy. A little like the skin of an avocado. Ensign Crossman saw him. He knew her. He approached her. She took one look at his face and screamed.
Malcolm smiled at her, “Now that
was Warp Factor Ten,” he said.
"Yes,” she said, “Very hot."
He shivered a little, despite their closeness. He kissed her. She was very sweaty, and coughed a little, “Darling, you're warmer than usual."
"Yes,” she said, “I – Reed, feel my forehead. And the back of my neck,” He complied, “How hot?"
"Very. More hot than you normally feel."
"I – dammit. I've got a fever,” she said, breaking apart from him, “Feels like it's climbing."
"Let's get you to Sick Bay,” he said.
"I can go by myself."
"I know. But I would not be a very good, uh, boyfriend, if I didn't take you, now, would I?"
"Boyfriend,” she said, putting her skirt back on, “Makes it sound like you're fifteen."
"Maybe this time 'round, fifteen will turn out a bit differently,” He said, putting on his uniform this time.
He looked at her with concern.
"I'll be all right. It's probably nothing,” she said.
Jonathan got up. There was a communications chime but he could barely hear it. His head was pounding. Porthos was whining, “Not now, boy,” He said, leaving the dog in his quarters and heading out. The Bridge would have to wait. He had a date with Sick Bay.
Malcolm took Pamela by the hand and led her into B Deck's hall. The hallway was already crowded with people, all moving slowly. They all seemed to be going in the same direction. MacKenzie was leaning against a wall, stopped. Blair looked red-faced. Will, next to her, was sneezing. Mark Stone was scratching his arms, his hands covered with bumps.
"Let's go more quickly,” Malcolm said, pulling Pamela along.
"Not so fast. I'm kinda nauseous,” she said.
As if on cue, Crewman Shapiro vomited in front of them.
Malcolm blinked a few times and steered her around the mess, “We need to go faster, Pamela. I will help you,” He put his arm around her and she was pretty much a dead weight, stepping down only a little bit as he walked as quickly as he could.
Crewman Haddon left her post. She got into the lift and somehow got herself back to C Deck and her quarters. She took one look at herself in her bathroom mirror, and shrieked.
Sick Bay was already crowded. Phlox already had Hoshi, An and Travis on beds when Pamela and Malcolm arrived.
"Put her, uh, there,” Phlox said, indicating an empty bed. He was a whirling dervish.
"There are others, doctor. You'll be out of beds soon,” Malcolm said.
"Get in ten more. We'll double them up,” Phlox said.
"All right,” Malcolm said. He turned to Pamela, lying on a bed, “I love you,” he said.
She smiled at him weakly, “See what happens when you get demanding?" she whispered.
He kissed her forehead, “Still nauseous?"
"Yes. And you shouldn't kiss me. You'll catch whatever the hell this is."
"I think I've already been exposed."
"We've both been exposed,” she said.
"You'll be all right. I'll have your cheesecake yet."
"Don't count on it."
He took one last look and left to bring in more patients.
Jonathan staggered along the wall, hugging it. That seemed to help a little bit, but why was it so damned hot?
Malcolm brought along Blair next, and set her on the bed next to Pamela.
"Strap them in,” Phlox said, “Don't want anyone falling off a narrow bed."
Malcolm did as requested.
"Henry!" Pamela said weakly, “I told you not to do that."
"It's not Henry, Darling,” he said.
"Oh. Well, um,” she said.
Blair just stared at him as he adjusted a strap.
"Reed," Pamela said.
By the time the beds were filled, and Malcolm had gotten a chance to take a breath, a good hour or so had gone by.
Phlox looked at him, “You seem to be unaffected so far. Perhaps there are others,” He went back to tending patients.
Malcolm clicked open his communicator, “Reed to, to, well, to anyone. Anyone at all."
“Go ahead,” It was Commander T'Pol.
"Oh, thank God. Commander, is there, is everything all right on the Bridge?"
"No, it isn't,” T'Pol's voice had a very slight edge to it; “The crew have either abandoned their posts or collapsed."
"We don't have enough beds,” Phlox said.
"There are quarters on this deck. And, and on C Deck. We – I suppose I – can put people in there. Double them up like in here. Would that be acceptable?"
"It'll have to do. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll need to prepare a solution of potassium carbonite."
"Is it a cure?" Malcolm asked.
"No. It's to put everyone into stasis while I figure this out. I'll make a dose for you as well, when you need it. Your delayed onset is interesting but I cannot pursue it now,” He went back to what he'd been doing.
Malcolm spoke into the communicator again, “Commander, can you stop the ship and put it adrift for a bit?"
"I have already had to do that,” she replied.
"Good. Then, please, come here. I'll need your help. We need to move a lot of people, and quickly."
"On my way."