kageygirl

Enterprise slash

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Enterprise kageygirl

Reciprocity

Title: Reciprocity

Author: kageygirl

E-mail: kageygirl@gmail.com

URL: http://www.kageygirl.com

Fandom: Enterprise

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Rating: PG-13

Category: Slash

Summary: A minor boo-boo, an extended metaphor, and a little engineer-baiting. Response to the Tattoo challenge.

Malcolm gritted his teeth as Phlox explored the wound on his back. "My, that is a nasty laceration, Lieutenant. Next time, try to avoid the sharp falling rocks."

"I'll try to remember that." He didn't bother to mention that the alternative would have been to let the chief engineer get flattened to a sticky paste. Accidents happened, and Trip had already apologized several times.

"Don't worry, it will not mar your tribal decoration."

At the next biobed, Trip looked up from shrugging his jumpsuit back on, and Malcolm suppressed a sigh at the light of interest in his eyes. Of course, Trip had gotten off without a scratch. "Tribal decoration?"

"I believe you call it a 'tattoo.'"

"Malcolm's got a tattoo? This I gotta see."

Malcolm sat up straighter, prepared to turn away from Trip's prying eyes, and had a brief vision of spinning in place on the biobed while Trip circled him like a shark. However, Phlox came to his rescue, holding up an admonishing hand. "Ah ah ah, Commander. Doctor-patient privilege." He finished dressing Malcolm's wound. "I apologize, Lieutenant. I shouldn't have said anything in front of the Commander."

"That's all right," he murmured. In fact, he was enjoying the frown of thwarted curiosity on Trip's face. Part of him suspected that Phlox had said it on purpose.

"There now, all done. Keep it clean, and come back tomorrow so that I can check on it."

"Thank you, Doctor." He decided not to bother with the T-shirt. It was ripped and bloodstained, and raising his arms to put it on would pull the skin of his back taut. As he awkwardly drew the top of his jumpsuit back on, he eyed Trip warily, who was staring at him in return as if he were a recalcitrant antimatter injector.

Trip paced him step for step as he left Sickbay. "You have a tattoo."

"Yes."

"Can I see it?"

"No."

"Why not?"

Malcolm had to pause for the turbolift. "Because I'd rather not show you."

"Why not?" Trip followed him into the car, less a shark now than a terrier, and Malcolm the fox. Malcolm turned towards Trip, taking the large slash across the back of his uniform out of the commander's line of sight. "Is it embarrassin'?"

Malcolm took in Trip's expression, the bright eyes, the hands stuffed into pockets to keep from fidgeting. Oh, he really should end this now, but the picture with which he was presented was too endearing. "It's a long story."

"I don't have anywhere to be right now." The turbolift slowed to a halt, and Malcolm slipped out through the opening doors, hearing Trip jog a little to catch up to him.

"I'm not going to be able to dissuade you from this, am I?" Malcolm said this with a sidelong glance. A bit of bait, a bristly tail seen through the brush…

'Nope. Not a chance." Trip took pride in his tenacity, leaning against the side of Malcolm's door and grinning, head tilted. Too eager for the hunt to see the trap.

Malcolm punched in his access code and stepped inside, Trip following without so much as a by-your-leave. He'd found the bolt-hole, and the thrill of the chase led him on. Malcolm turned to him, putting on a stern expression. He didn't want to make this too easy on the engineer. "Yes, and the next thing I know, it'll be all over the ship. No, thank you."

"I wouldn't do that to you." Malcolm continued to glare, waiting out the silence. He didn't have to wait long. "Come on, Malcolm. You show me yours and I'll show you mine." Trip raised his eyebrows winningly.

Malcolm fought to keep his expression steady. Trip had overcommitted, and Malcolm quickly countered to keep him from realizing his mistake. "Oh, all right then, if it will get you to leave me in peace." He tried to project exasperation, but the boyish triumph on Trip's face was battering his defenses.

Malcolm unzipped his jumpsuit and tried to slide his left arm out of the sleeve, but stopped with an indrawn hiss of breath as the wound on his back stretched tight. Trip was at his side in an instant, laying a hand on his shoulder, face twisted in sympathy. "Here, let me get that."

"I'm all right—it just caught me off guard," he protested, but he let Trip slide his sleeve off, gently, his fingertips trailing down Malcolm's bare skin. He looked up to see blue eyes, warm and wary, watching him for signs of discomfort. "Well, take your look, then." He smiled softly to take the sting out of his words and turned to present his back to Trip, slipping out of the right sleeve as he did so.

He felt Trip's fingertips trace the shield emblazoned on his left shoulder blade, and imagined that he felt the other man's chuckle as he ran his fingers over the words across it. "Well, now you gotta tell me the story involved."

Malcolm kept his back to Trip, as if that bare touch held him immobile. "Level Three Advanced Hand-to-Hand. The instructor was a vicious Irish bastard named Moran. He'd start every class the same way." He mimicked the voice that had haunted an entire term. "'Ye're all a bunch o' tossers, and I could kill the lot of ya right here, but I can't stand the paperwork.'"

Trip barked a laugh behind him, and steadied himself by placing his other hand on Malcolm's waist. "He said that every afternoon until the last day. That day, he lined us up, looked us each in the face, and said, 'Ye're all as unkillable as I can make ya. Now get out there, and if ya die stupid, know that I'll track down yer shades and haunt ya forever.'" Malcolm shook his head at the memory. "That night, a few of our squad went out, raised a few pints to the bastard, and commemorated the occasion."

"'Certified Unkillable by Inspector Moran.'" Trip's fingers ghosted over the words again as he read them aloud. "I like it."

"I kept meaning to have it removed, but never got around to it. Usually, I forget it's even there."

"Don't do that." Trip laid his hand flat over the tattoo, and Malcolm felt the warmth all through his chest. "You should never screw with a good luck charm."

Malcolm recalled another lesson of Moran's shouted over the practice field. "Reed! If ya leave yer back open, ye're a goner!" Damn him, but the man was still right.

He finally stepped forward, breaking the spell, and tied his sleeves around his waist before turning to Trip. He watched the engineer rub his fingers together, absently, and took a deep breath to steady himself. "Your turn."

Trip had been staring somewhere in the middle of Malcolm's chest, but his eyes snapped back up. "My turn for what?"

Malcolm folded his arms, ignoring the tug of the bandage across his back, and felt his lips curl into a smile. "Now I get to see yours."

"I, uh," Trip hung his head, one hand going to the back of his neck as a flush crept into his cheeks. "I can't. It's personal."

"And mine wasn't?" Malcolm moved slowly forward, circling Trip.

"Well, Ah didn't think you were gonna call me on it." His accent thickened, and Malcolm was delighted to see the flush move up the back of his neck.

"Am I to understand that you lured me into sharing under false pretenses?" He continued to circle, forcing Trip to turn to keep him in sight, although the commander seemed to be trying not to make eye contact with him. He sprang the trap. "That's hardly fair."

Malcolm watched as Trip's embarrassment fought with his sense of honor, although he never doubted the outcome. "Damn." His hand went to his zipper.

Malcolm placed his hands over Trip's, holding it in place. "You don't really have to, if you don't want to."

"No, you're right." He gave Malcolm a quick grin. "A deal's a deal."

Malcolm sat down on the bed, both to give Trip a little space and to make himself seem less threatening. No reason to rub in his victory. Trip pulled his jumpsuit down past his hips, then paused with his hands on the waistband of his briefs. "No one else hears about this, right?"

"On my word as an armory officer."

Slowly, hesitantly, Trip pulled down the left side of his briefs, giving Malcolm a glimpse of curly hair trailing down his stomach. A dark symbol stood out in relief against the pale skin over his pelvic bone.

Malcolm reached out a hand, as if drawn by an unknown force to sketch the symbol. He wondered if Trip had felt the same attraction. "Tell me about this."

Trip stared down as him, blue eyes unwavering. "My ex-girlfriend came to visit me in San Francisco. She was kind of a free spirit. Wanted to do something special."

"The lines are so dark." Malcolm leaning in closer, studying the borders of the tattoo, and felt Trip shudder as his breath brushed the marking.

"We went to a little place where they still use real needles. It was…hard to describe." Malcolm felt warmth rising in his own cheeks, under the heat of that regard.

"What does it mean?"

If possible, Trip blushed more. He turned his head away and murmured something inaudible.

"What?"

He looked back down at Malcolm, and it was as if a dam broke. He giggled helplessly. "It's the Chinese symbol for virility."

Malcolm joined him, unable to hold back the laughter. Trip burst out, "It was her idea!" and Malcolm rocked forward, his hand moving to the other man's hip for balance. Trip dropped a hand on his shoulder, and they stayed that way for a few minutes, trying to get themselves back under control.

Malcolm straightened up first, and looked up at the engineer. "Well, does it work?"

Trip grinned, tears still streaming down his cheeks. "Considerin' that she dumped me, I'm not sure it's really all that potent."

Malcolm was seized by a mad urge, the same kind that had led him to turn his back on his father's wishes and strike out on his own, that had led him to get a tattoo when he wasn't nearly drunk enough to justify it. The same kind that had led him here. He leaned forward, and ran his tongue over the tattoo.

Trip froze, and Malcolm stood up slowly, well inside the engineer's personal space. He breathed across Trip's ear. "Seems to work well enough for me."

Then he was being kissed, fervently, Trip's hands cradling his head as he spun them both around and backed onto the bed, pulling Malcolm down on top of him. He barely even felt the stinging cut on his back, but Trip pulled away when his hands brushed the edge of the bandage. "Are you sure you're up to this?"

Malcolm ground his hips down, causing both of them to moan, and grinned wickedly. "What do you think?"

"No, I meant—"

"I know what you meant." Malcolm cut off any further protest with a kiss, and was gratified to feel Trip relax into it. When he broke off to breathe, he saw that the concern was still on Trip's face. "It's only a scratch, really."

"Oh, that's right." Trip pulled Malcolm's sleeves from around his waist, peeling them back so he could cup his erection. "You're unkillable."

"And you're virile. So prove it."

"You're wearin' way too many clothes."

Malcolm ran his hands up Trip's chest, then stared a challenge down at him. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."