Title: Finding Home
Author: Philippe de la Matraque
Rating: R (for discussion of violence and torture)
Pairing: R/S light
Archive: Yes to Trekiverse.org, otherwise, please ask.
Summary: Sequel to Alien Us. Malcolm Reed barely survived to see to be
reunited with Hoshi Sato. But things have taken a downturn and now he
needs a new heart and a way to heal.
Author's note: I deliberately use italics like this *in text** just
because it makes conversion to HTML so much easier.
Dr. MacCormack found Lt. Reed right where Commander Tucker said he left
him. He was sitting cross-legged, absently plucking blades of grass.
MacCormack realized she'd underestimated his potential discomfort in the
hospital. Perhaps if she'd chosen a room that bordered the park, one
with a window, she'd have received a little more compliance.
"I'm not in the sun," he told her when she got close.
MacCormack sighed and sat down beside him. She put the sandwich
container and drink in front of him. "I did try with the room, you know."
He didn't look at her but opened the box. "I can tell. Color, plants,
the loveseat. Do you know how long it has been since I sat in a chair,
not counting my one trip out of Sickbay? I was there a year, and I
never saw the sky from when were taken to when they tried to execute me.
And then it was a desert. What I wouldn't have given for a breeze."
He took a bite of his sandwich.
MacCormack felt for him. She really did. But she had his physical
health to think of, too. "What happens when your legs get stiff from
sitting down here?"
"I might lay back and watch the clouds through the branches."
She took out the portable scanner, expecting to see issues. And he
wasn't without them. Pain, for one. He hadn't had pain meds since this
morning. But his heart was actually beating at a steady, relaxed pace.
It was the most relaxed he'd been since he woke up. "What about the
"I'm an adult," he responded. "I can hold it."
She considered it. He was okay. He wasn't asking for meds. He'd have
to be weaned off them eventually so maybe that wasn't a bad thing. "You
can't sleep out here?"
He sighed. "I'm not planning on camping out." He took a drink. "Have
you ever been in a place that makes your skin crawl? Really crawl?"
She frowned. "I went on a desert hike once. On the way back, I had to
run from shade to shade. I couldn't stand the sun on my skin anymore."
He nodded and swallowed the bite he had taken. "That's how I felt in
Sickbay. The sounds of the machines helping me stay alive. That damn
pulse monitor. That bed." He waved his hand. "This is nothing like
there. For the first time, I don't feel the need to run way. The fact
that I physically *can't** get away doesn't change the feeling that I
MacCormack placed a hand on his shoulder. "You need to walk. That
will start you getting stronger. You let us know when the pain is too
much. We'll give you something, but less each time. You have to
promise to let us know if something feels wrong. You can either be out
here with Tucker in the morning or with Trevon in the afternoon. But
then you go back. You walk as much as you can, from your door inward.
We'll check your heart four times a day, change bandages daily as needed."
"Can I stay out here today?"
"Trevon takes you back," she said, agreeing. "You walk from the door."
"You'll walk farther, you know."
"That's a given," he retorted. "I hope I'll be able to walk right out
of this hospital.
MacCormack chuckled. "Lieutenant, I don't doubt that you will. Enjoy
your lunch. I'll send Trevon out." She stood and brushed off her pant
legs. Trevon was right. Malcolm Reed was not a broken man.
For a man who lived on a starship in the cosmos, Malcolm Reed looked
very much at home sitting on the grass under a tree under a partly
cloudy sky. "Good afternoon, Malcolm."
Malcolm looked up at him. "Good afternoon. Are you going to sit?"
Trevon was looking at the other benches to see if any were in shade.
The ones that were were perhaps too far for Reed to walk. Given, there
was the chair. But at Malcolm's question, Trevon lowered himself to the
ground and sat. "You seem quite comfortable here."
"This place is everything I didn't have in Zheiren. I was in the
desert before and then at the end," Reed kept his eyes on the pond, the
trees, the clouds.
Trevon nodded. "No reminders, here. I'm sensing a windowless room was
an oversight. You were kept in windowless rooms."
Malcolm nodded. "At least there's no camera in mine here." He turned
to Trevon. "There is no camera, right?"
"None," Trevon confirmed. "So they didn't just watch you from windows.
They used cameras."
Malcolm went back to watching his surroundings. "There's no door to
"No, but the concept hasn't changed," Trevon assured him. "I'll keep
watch to be sure no one wanders too close. Anything shared between us
will remain between us."
"So that 'surgery' is over. Where are you now?"
It was easier here to remember, Malcolm realized. Not as upsetting.
"It was a different room. High ceiling, bright lights. It couldn't
lift my head, move my arm. I remembered."
"Were you in pain?"
Malcolm shook his head. "They got the part right after the surgeries.
I wasn't happy. To still be alive. I thought they'd do it again. They
did do it again."
"Stay in the moment. What else did you feel?"
He was lying flat on his back. He remembered and his stomach felt bad.
"Ill. I felt ill, my heart was pounding and I started to shake. There
was a machine behind me. It was beeping with my pulse. It clacked and
I could feel this warm liquid enter my neck. A sedative. I felt the
tubes." He demonstrated with his left hand. "They were keeping me
alive. I thought about pulling them out."
"What stopped you? The sedative?"
"Hoshi," Malcolm replied. "I turned my head to get a better grip and
she was there, just a few feet away."
"Her presence didn't change the possibilities of them doing other
surgeries. So why did she stop you?"
"I couldn't leave her alone," Malcolm told him. "I was the senior
officer. She was my responsibility. And it would just have been cruel."
Trevon heard that descant again. "Did she know you were there?"
"Not at first." He remembered watching her, fighting to stay awake.
"She started to cry, turned her head to wipe her eyes. She saw me, saw
my tubes. She found her tubes and cried some more. So I reached my
hand out to her. She took it, then I gave in to the sedative."
"Were you happy to be together? I don't mean happy with the circumstance."
Malcolm felt sad now. She was alone on *Enterprise**. Not alone but
without him. As he was without her. "Yes and no. No because it meant
they did the same to her. But yes, because we had each other."
"I read something interesting about a very bleak period of Earth
history," Trevon told him. "Nazi concentration camps. Some survivors
claim to have survived because they had someone else. Not someone to
take care of them. But someone to care for."
"I can believe that," Malcolm agreed. "But it also doesn't hurt to
have someone take care of you. I think it works both ways. It did for us."
"How else did her presence change things for you?"
That one was easy. "It made me feel like I had to be stronger." But
God, he felt so weak now. He probably couldn't get himself off the
ground at this point. But it wasn't that kind of strength. "I had to
be strong for her. To believe that *Enterprise** would come. That
Captain Archer wouldn't abandon us. And I was able to think more
logically. They had to wait for us to heal from the crash injuries.
They'd have to wait again."
"That was good," Trevon affirmed. "You were able to return some to
control to your cognitive brain. Now that you were together, did you
communicate? Were you allowed to interact?"
"They probably hoped so," Malcolm smirked. "Even pushed out beds
Trevon lifted a finger. "Cameras! So they saw the hand-holding. Did
Malcolm shook his head. "Give me your hand." He held out his right
hand, since Trevon was to his right. "Your left hand." Trevon did so.
Malcolm turned their hands over and tapped with his thumb on the back of
Trevon's hand. Then he let go.
"Morris code!" Trevon exclaimed. "Very clever."
"Morse. But yes, out of the view of the camera."
"What did you 'talk' about?"
Malcolm sighed. "I apologized to her. She said I needn't. Then she
told me she was awake. I told her I was, too. I told her the first
codename: Sarumon. As a group, we called them orcs."
"Orcs are evil beings," Trevon remarked. "Did you think these orcs
Not the scientists. T-Rex, sure. But at the time? "Yes and no. Yes
because they did that to us. But no, because we could see they didn't
know they had hurt us. They treated us well enough after, changing our
bandages, putting this pink salve on to help us heal. They tried to
teach me their names, get me to say mine. I did my best to ignore them."
"And when you were well enough to leave the beds?"
"We had mats on the floor. We sat close together, hid our faces behind
our hair--it had grown out--and we whispered very quietly. We slept
holding hands to help 'fight each other's demons' when we slept." He
missed her hand so much now.
"Did that help?" Trevon asked, skeptically. "You still had nightmares?"
"Yeah, it didn't really help," Malcolm admitted. "But it didn't hurt
"Did the 'orcs' try to communicate in other ways?"
"They never stopped," Malcolm said. "They brought in a video screen,
not unlike the one in my room. Children's programs to hopefully teach
me the language. The first one was on a rack near the floor. So I
turned it off."
Trevon grinned as well. "A little passive resistance. I assume they
turned it back on."
Malcolm nodded. "Hoshi unplugged it. So they put it high on the wall.
It was in this time that we made a plan."
"To escape?" Trevon asked. "But that didn't work out."
Malcolm shook his head. "Escape wasn't possible. Even if, by some
miracle, we made it out, there was still a desert and we didn't exactly
blend in. No, the plan was for when they made one of us talk."
"Ah, so you wouldn't have to think 'on the spot', as they say.
*Did he mean on your feet?** Malcolm nodded. "We'd stick with Frodo and
Sam and the story of *The Lord of the Rings**. Oh, and they brought in
a linguist. I almost forgot about him."
"You could tell them apart?"
How to describe it? "Their faces weren't all that different," he
decided, "it was more how they acted. Different personalities. Like
when there are two words that sound alike, and you have to use context
to get the meaning."
"I like that analogy," Trevon commented. "So you could differentiate
based on their mannerisms, their 'context.'" Malcolm nodded. Trevon
went on, "You had approximately four weeks between procedures. One week
in a coma, at least one in bed and bandages. What else did you do?"
"I tried to keep Hoshi's spirits up." Malcolm remembered her fearful
questions at night. *Why hasn't *Enterprise** come?** "I didn't remind
her that they'd do it again, as soon as we were healed enough. I
thought that was all we had to be afraid of."
"But you didn't believe what you were telling her then."
"Not really." But it was still worth telling her. "What good would it
have done to take away any last hope she might have?"
"Did you have any?"
Malcolm dropped his head. "Only a thread. A very thin thread."
Trevon's voice was very gentle when he asked the next question. "You
said you thought that another surgery was all you had to fear. What
happened to make you afraid again?"
Malcolm shut his eyes tight. He uncrossed his legs and pulled his
knees up tight to his chest.
"Malcolm, you can say it," Trevon coaxed. "Remember, I've been there."
That should have made it easier. But with his eyes closed and his face
in his knees, he couldn't see the pond, or the ducks, or the squirrels.
He felt sick to his stomach.
"Sexuality is a very private thing to most humanoids." Trevon's voice
was quiet, close to his right ear. "It's a vulnerability. And when
that vulnerability is violated it hurts us deeply."
"I wasn't raped," Malcolm breathed. As if there was a difference. It
felt like he had been. "They touched--" No. He couldn't say it.
"No, you were molested," Trevon agreed. "That it was done in the name
of science doesn't change how it felt for you."
Molested. A word he'd never thought would apply to himself. "I tried
not to--" He couldn't finish it. He hadn't wanted it. Hadn't enjoyed it.
"Your body responded the only it could have. You were restrained,
drugged, and they followed through with their purpose. They stimulated
you to collect a biological sample. You felt betrayed by your own body
but you couldn't have stopped it."
How did he know? Had he? But it didn't seem to be right. He never
became aroused when a doctor examined him. "But with doctors?"
"They don't intend to stimulate," Trevon stated. "Women generally do
not become aroused by their gynecologists. They feel uncomfortable but
not violated. If a doctor here needed that same sample, she'd hand you
a vessel and send you to a private room to come up with it yourself. And
you would consent to do it. What was done to you was not done with your
consent. And that is molestation. It was also not private, so it was
embarrassing. A double violation. For me, it was private but still
without consent. And he taunted me with my betrayal, told me how I'd
enjoyed it. It took a long time for me to understand that, physically,
it was not abnormal. Continued physical stimulation will lead to
ejaculation. They knew that. They probably had done the same with other
beings, animals, in that lab."
But it wasn't just that time. Why had it happened again? Then he
remember what Trip had said. Enesh and a Buftanisian spy. A small
Raptor. Biological samples. That's why Smeagol had apologized.
"They did this in front of Hoshi?" Trevon asked.
"She hid her face," Malcolm said, still so quiet he wasn't sure Trevon
had even heard. A bird in the tree above him began to sing, and he
remembered where he was. He still felt sick, but he lifted his head. "I
broke their video screen."
"Really?" Trevon backed up a bit. "That wasn't in my notes. I only
got medically relevant files.
Malcolm felt a breeze on the back of his neck. "I tossed a plate at it.
Hoshi gave me her plate, and I broke the camera, too."
"That's a bit more active resistance," Trevon commented with a smile.
"Hoshi and I could talk openly for the first time in two months." The
ducks were back for another swim.
"And what did you talk about then, in your brief moment of semi-freedom."
"I was stuck in what-ifs. If I had done something different as we
crashed.... Hoshi reminded me that what-ifs never work. She suggested
we use the broken glass to kill ourselves."
Trevon leaned back in surprise. "She jumped straight to suicide, just
when you'd gained some privacy, some small victory?"
"That glass was our first real opportunity. With no camera, we'd have
at least a few minutes to bleed out. However inadequate they were with
anesthesia, they were brilliant with life support. If we accepted that
*Enterprise** wasn't coming, there was no future. It wasn't an
Trevon seemed to consider that for a moment. "So why didn't you?"
Malcolm sighed. "I talked her out of it." Of course, he was glad now
that he had, but then? Then when Radagast and the spy came, when they
took her away and cut him open again. He felt that he'd missed his one
chance. "And they installed a new camera, got rid of the screen, and
switched us to paper plates. I had known it wouldn't last. And we both
knew something bad would happen." A lot happened. He dropped his head
again. He could rationalize it now, so why did it still hurt to remember?
He could feel Trevon leaning closer. "They collected another sample?"
He decided to use that. To rationalize it. "Not them. It was at night.
Radagast and a Raptor, a spy. I know that now. They did it secret.
Hoshi caught on to that."
"Was it easier to accept know that?"
He really felt sick. The sandwich box was still nearby, if it came
that. "I didn't know. Hoshi was drugged. She told me after." He
reached out and found the box. "Trip told me about the spy."
"So slightly more private but still without your consent," Trevon said.
"You look ill. Are you feeling ill because of the memories, or do I
need to get a doctor here?"
"Memories," Malcolm breathed.
"You can't vomit tucked up like that."
"I don't know that I will," Malcolm told him.
"But you might." When Malcolm didn't untuck, he went on. "You
couldn't break the camera, so what did you do to regain your power?"
"I didn't," Malcolm admitted. "I wouldn't eat. I wouldn't hold her
hand. I couldn't be strong."
"You lost your thread," Trevon surmised. "How did Hoshi react?"
Those memories flooded in and the nausea started to ease. "She held me,
said she'd be the strong one. And she told me *Enterprise** would
come." It felt like love, even then. "Bayzhoo even apologized."
"Bayzhoo was Radagast?"
Malcolm lifted his head. "No Bayzhoo apologized for what Radagast had
done in secret. Radagast was a traitor. The Raptor was a spy."
"Were they punished?"
"Not that I knew then, but I never saw Radagast or the Raptor again,"
Malcolm told him. "But Trip told me the Raptor was executed. Radagast
was Enesh, and he was traded to Buftantis with Hoshi."
"You saw them take her?"
Malcolm shook his head. "Found out after I came out of the coma." The
ducks were halfway across the pond.
Trevon put it together. "The second surgery. After which you
attempted suicide several times. That seems more of an emotional decision."
Malcolm sighed and lowered his legs. "I had nothing left. No future,
no one to care for."
"You said they were very good at life support. They saved you, over and
over. What convinced you to stop?"
That was easy. It was always the same answer. "Hoshi."
"But she was gone," Trevon argued.
"I didn't stop. They came up with new, very uncomfortable ways of
restraining me. Then Bayzhoo told me that Hoshi was alive."
"And you understood?"
"A three-year-old could have understood," Malcolm told him. He grabbed
a few leaves. He balled them up with his hands. "He used paper."
Malcolm pointed a finger between him and Trevon. "You and I, Zheiren."
He pointed to one side of the leaf ball. "Frodo. Buftanis." He pointed
to the other side.
"You revealed her codename at some point."
Malcolm sighed. "I chanced calling out for her, quietly, and just once."
Trevon nodded. "What had they done, in this second surgery?"
"My back." He stiffened his back without realizing it. He
concentrated on the ducks. The mother duck was on the opposite shore.
"Did they release restraints, after Bayzhoo told you where Hoshi was?"
Malcolm shook his head. "No, and I didn't try again so they needn't
have bothered, but I couldn't have told them that."
"You have a lot of will power to resist speaking for so long."
"It wasn't a matter of willpower," Malcolm explained, "but of
preservation. The orcs weren't evil. But the T-Rexes, the Raptors, were
military. If they knew I could communicate...."
"They'd do exactly what they did," Trevon completed his sentence. "Only
it would have been sooner and thus more prolonged and probably more severe."
"Not sure it could have got more severe," Malcolm said. "Or did you
not read the notes on the manner of my execution? But yes, it would
have started much sooner. Hell, if it hadn't been the one year out of
three they mated, things might have ended differently. Some of them
couldn't handle the added hormones as well as others."
"Commander Tucker obviously read a different set of notes," Trevon
replied. "I think it's time we get you back. Are you in pain?"
"Let me tell you after we get me into that chair," Malcom answered.
Trevon helped him get off the ground but Malcolm walked the short
distance to the chair under his own power. And yes, he was in pain. So
he was given a short before he got back to his room. Trevon stopped the
chair at the door but stayed close to make sure Malcolm didn't fall as
he made his way to the restroom. Malcolm returned to the loveseat
after. The clock in the room read 1335.
Trip wouldn't be back for a few hours. He thought about turning on the
video screen but the controller was at the bed. He'd have to get there
and back or get there and stay there. And he didn't want to stay there.
He used the arm of the loveseat to steady himself. He told himself it
wasn't far and that every time he made that walk he'd get stronger. But
by the time he reached the bed, he was very tired, and his legs felt
like the gelatin he'd been fed the first days after the surgery. So he
made a deal with himself. He'd stay one hour then go back to the
loveseat and wait for Trip.
Trip got back to the hospital at 1815. Malcolm was back on the
loveseat, watching some program on the video screen, but he stood and
walked, slowly, to the bed to switch it off. Trip noted he took a
breather before heading back and dropping back onto the loveseat.
"You're walking better," Trip commented.
"Or at least more," Malcolm said. "Still wears me out, but I made a
deal with the doctor."
Trip grabbed the chair and rolled it over. "What kind of a deal?"
"Well, I really enjoyed my time in the courtyard," Malcolm responded.
Trip laughed. "She called you out."
"We made and arrangement," Malcolm countered. "I can either go out
there with you in the morning or with Trevon. And back here, I have to
walk if I'm in this room."
Trip frowned. "Seems a bit one-sided."
"Well, I'm to ask for pain meds when I need them and submit to exams
four times a day." He smiled lightly. "And they pulled the IV from my
arm. So I'm taking that to mean no more sedative, no more of that
Trip grinned. "So ya did get something good."
"Besides," Malcolm added, "the walking will make me stronger. And the
stronger I get, the better my chances of getting out of here."
"Just don't push yourself too fast," Trip warned. "I know you want out
of here, but it hasn't been a week yet. You got a new heart! And ya
weren't exactly up to runnin' a marathon before that."
"I know," Malcolm replied, "I've got to be smart about it. I spent
eleven months trying to weaken myself. I know it will take time--a long
time--to get my full strength back. Besides, I still get winded getting
to the bed. They should be bringing dinner soon. You had yours?"
Trip got an idea. "Nah, I'll wait and see what you get, then I'll run
and get the same thing. We can have dinner together, almost like back
in the mess hall."
"Sounds good. How are things at R&D?"
Trip sighed. "Wrapping up faster than I thought. Still, they're
working on some big stuff there." Trip took a breath. This was going
to be delicate. "Have you given any thought to what you'll do after
you're all healed up?"
Malcolm was quick to answer. "I'll go back to *Enterprise.**
"I'm not saying you can't or you shouldn't," Trip held, "but maybe
you've been through enough. It's dangerous out there."
"A little over a year ago, this world was waiting to be destroyed, and
that after the prototype weapon killed seven million," Malcolm argued.
"It's dangerous here, too. Trip, if Hoshi wants to retire, I'll retire.
But if she's on *Enterprise**, I will be on *Enterprise.** Besides,
I'm quite over being helpless and weak. I want to be useful again."
"You can be." Trip wanted to reassure him. "I can't hardly imagine
*Enterprise** without you at Tactical, but if you--and Hoshi--want to
stay planetside, you should give R&D a look. Hoshi can teach. You have
a knack. R&D develops all kinds of systems, including weapons and defense."
Malcolm sighed. "I'll keep that in mind. But we don't know what Hoshi
wants. We never discussed leaving the ship until I needed a new heart.
And then it was just to tell me that I was leaving and she had to stay."
An orderly arrived with a tray of food. Trip got up and slid the tray
over to where Malcolm was sitting. Malcolm lifted the cover, and Trip
took note. Pork chops and a twice-baked potato. "I'll be back in ten
minutes." Malcolm covered the plate again.
Trip walked to the canteen as fast as he could without running and put
his order in to go. It took a couple of minutes, but he got it and
tried not to spill anything on his way back to Malcolm's room. He
maneuvered the chair to the opposite corner of the tray.
As they ate, Trip filled Malcolm in on some of the details of R&D
projects that were more in line with Malcolm's interests, like
explosives or energy-shielding. So Trip left him a PADD and promised to
get more the next day. "You gotta work your mind, too," Trip said, "not
just your body."
Malcolm spent a few hours going over the specs. It was nice to his
brain for more than watching movies. He'd spent more time bored than
vivisected or tortured in Zheiren. But eventually his eyelids started
to get heave and he set that PADD aside. He wanted to update Hoshi
before he tried to sleep. He picked up the PADD with his previous
letter and started another.
Things have gotten better here. Not enough so that I don't miss you. I
went to the courtyard today. I spent a few hours in the shade of a real
tree under a blue sky. There's a small pond with a little family of
ducks. I watched all the little ducklings swimming with their mother,
first with Trip then during therapy.
I'm following your advice. It was hard at first but it's sometimes a
bit easier. We talked about something very personal today. I won't,
can't, write it in this letter. But you were there when it happened.
Twice. So I think you can guess. You looked away, and I thank for
that. And you were strong for me when I couldn't be.
Is it possible to love someone in reverse? I didn't think it was
possible to love you any more than I already do, but I look back at our
time together there, and maybe even before that, back on *Enterprise**,
and I feel myself having loved you then.
I wanted to share that courtyard with you. You need it, too, I think.
I know you got to go outside, but not in freedom. You shared those
skies with me, the fields. The snow. Sometimes it seems so long ago
and at others like it was just last minute.
I still wouldn't trade any of it, if it means I wouldn't know I love
you. You are the single most important thing in my life. Trip has
talked about an option, if we should decide to leave *Enterprise** and
live a quieter life. I don't know that I want any other options. My
first inclination is to return to my post, protecting *Enterprise** and
her crew. Maybe that will change after a few months here. And therapy.
Maybe it won't. I don't know what you want in this regard. You
weren't given a choice.
Let me just say, I want to be wherever you are. If you want to return
to the safer life of a teacher, I'll stay. If you want to remain the
Communications Officer on *Enterprise**, I'll work my way back to being
Tactical Officer. If you want to retire to Risa, I'll follow you there.
Anywhere you are.
I wish I could just talk to you like before. But I do feel better when
I write these letters. You are helping me even from afar. I know you
won't get my letters until Trip returns but maybe they'll make you feel
better to read them, too. I guess I'm renewing that old tradition of
long letters expressing my feelings to the woman I love.
I think this new heart loves you, too. I can feel it beating a bit
faster when I think of you. Nothing to worry about. They scan it quite
often but have only had good things to say. They have taken me off that
damn pulse monitor. You know there was one there. I couldn't stand it.
No more sedative. New nerves are doing fine as well. They added or
replaced something in my eye. Fixed it, I assume from whatever they did
to it the first time. I'm glad they never touched your perfect eyes.
I'm walking more. From the door to the bed, from the bed to the
loveseat, to the restroom. Can't get out the door on my own yet, but
I'm working on it. One day, I'm going to literally sweep you off your feet.