Disclaimer: I dont own anything Star Trek - if I did I wouldnt be writing Fanfiction :) I own Captain Rachel Robinson and Lieutenant Louise Hatcher.

A/N: This follows in the universe of my story "In the Best of Intentions". You dont have to read it first but helps you understand Rachel (who she is where she is from) a little better as she is my OC. Louise is also my OC and this story follows her first couple of days on the Enterprise and the whirlwind of events that occur around her :)

Between an Engineer and an Armoury Officer

I paced nervously outside Admiral Forrest's office. I was waiting for him to tell me if I was successful in my request to be on the Engineering team aboard Enterprise. I could hear voices in the room besides Admiral Forrest… Captains Archer and Robinson.

Damn, I thought wringing my hands anxiously, The Captain of the Enterprise talking to the Admiral about me… That's either really good or really bad. At least Captain Robinson was in there, she'll put in a good word for me.

I was one of Captain Robinson's top engineers aboard Columbia before the attack. I was fortunately visiting a friend at the time and was spared. It has taken me awhile to regain my footing for my career. It has been almost a year since it happened and only just now I have enough confidence in myself to request a posting again. I had wanted to be on Enterprise since the day she was commissioned.

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door to Admiral Forrest's office opening, admitting Captain Robinson.

"Lieutenant Hatcher." She greeted formally.

"Yes, ma'am." I replied straightening up.

"It's wonderful to see you again, I am glad you doing alight. I think it has been almost a year since we have seen each other. The Columbia memorial service, I think it was." She smiled warmly at me, bringing down my nerves a couple of notches.

"Thankyou ma'am. It is great to see you as well. It has indeed been a long time."

"Now come through, the Admiral had made his decision." She turned and walked back into the office. I swallowed audibly and tentatively followed her in.

"Lieutenant Louise Hatcher, a pleasure to meet you. Captain Robinson speaks very highly of you." Admiral Forrest greeted, shaking my hand.

"Thankyou, sir." I replied timidly.

"Lieutenant, this is Captain Archer." He introduced, gesturing to the tall handsome man to Captain Robinson's left.

"It's great to meet you Louise; I hope you will enjoy your time aboard Enterprise." He said as he shook my hand.

Aboard Enterprise… His words echoed in my mind. As the implication of his words set in, I quickly looked up at Captain Archer who was grinning.

"Sir? You mean…" I was too flabbergasted to complete my sentence.

"Yes, Lieutenant. You are now officially apart of the Engineering team aboard Enterprise." Archer replied, finishing my train of thought. My hands flew to mouth, I could not believe this! Everything I had worked hard to regain in the past year had paid off. It was hard to get over the deaths of so many of my friends.

My thoughts must have shown clearly on my face because Captain Archer stepped forward and took my hand.

"Louise, I know it was hard to lose people you were close to, but you deserve this and I'm sure they would have been proud of you for achieving what you have." I looked into his kind eyes,

"Thankyou sir, I really appreciate this. It is something I have wanted for ages."

"Excellent! Hatcher, you are welcome to move to the ship when you are ready. Good day." Admiral Forrest dismissed. Captain Archer walked out of the door squeezing Captain Robinson's hand as he passed her; she smiled at him before turning to me.

"Come, Louise. Let's go." She placed her arm around my shoulders and we walked out together.

"Okay, we can drop the formalities now, Louise, my old friend." She said once we were clear of the Admiral's office. I sighed deeply.

"Great, Rachel." I said relieved, I hated adhering to formalities.

"It really has been awhile hasn't it? How are you?"

"Too long. It hit me harder than I expected, their deaths, but it's getting better though." I smiled at her, "I'm sure, being with you on Enterprise will make things better."

"You'll be fine Louise, I'm sure of it." She assured me. I looked at her for a moment, wondering if she was going to explain that interaction between her and Captain Archer. Obviously I was missing something.

"Rachel?"

"Hmmm." She replied distractedly.

"Captain Archer is a nice man, isn't he?" I offered casually, noticing the slight blush on her cheeks. This confirmed it for me. "Okay, when did this happen and why am I just finding out about this now?" I demanded, stopping Rachel in her tracks. She looked at me quizzically,

"What are you talking about?" she asked slowly covering her left hand with her right.

"Don't think I can't see that ring on your finger, Rachel Robinson!" I stood in front of her with my hands my hips. We stared each other down for a few moments before Rachel broke.

"Alright!" she capitulated, "It started pretty much as soon as I was first assigned to Enterprise. And to answer your second question, nobody knew for ages. It took Jonathan months to convince me before I would agree to move into his quarters, I was very shy about it." She blushed once more, further proving her point. We then continued walking again.

"How did he propose to you?" I asked eager for the details; I was an old romantic at heart. Rachel sighed dreamily as she recounted the event.

"It was just as we rescued Jonathan from the surface of 20th Century Earth." At my quizzical look she added, 'Long story. Anyway, we had thought that Jon had died on the Xindi weapon we destroyed. He came up onto the bridge and I could not believe my eyes. After he had extracted himself from one of Hoshi's hugs; he came down near the Captain's chair, where I was standing, and we just looked at each other. I couldn't even think of anything to say, that's how amazed I was to find that he was alive." She broke off, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"Come on, continue!" I prompted, as I unlocked the front door to my house and we walked in.

"Oh sorry, just thinking about it again gets me all emotional!" she sat down on my couch and breathed a deep shuddering breath. "Okay, where was I?"

"You were amazed he was alive." I reminded her, even more eager to here the details.

"The whole bridge was silent as we just gazed at each other, still not saying anything." Rachel sighed dramatically; obviously it still affected her, even months after the event. "He then bent down on one knee and took my hand. I knew what was coming after that, I just knew it. I only then vaguely remember saying yes, subsequently jumping into his arms and the bridge crew applauding, but that's it." She grinned apologetically at me. I had already long abandoned the bag that I was packing some belongings into. I practically flew into Rachel's arms,

"Oh, Rachel! That is…that is… I can't even find a word for it!" I was overjoyed at her news.

"Thanks, Louise," she acknowledged softly, her cheeks flushed. "You better get a move on though in your packing, if you want to get on Enterprise today."

"Right." I laughed as I continued packing my bags.

We walked along the footbridge outside Starfleet Command in a comfortable silence. Suddenly I grabbed Rachel's arm.

"What?" she asked, turning to face me.

"Who is that man?" I asked breathlessly, "He is absolutely gorgeous!" She followed my line of sight; there were two men standing on the other end of the footbridge talking, one of them was Captain Archer. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously and glanced sidewards at me.

'That man is your best friend and commanding officer's finance." She uttered slowly as if talking to a small child. My brow creased in confusion,

"Rachel, I'm not talking about your fiancé." I replied hurriedly. Rachel's suspicious look disappeared almost instantly.

"Oh! Well, then who-" she stopped as she recognized the man next to Captain Archer.

"You didn't seriously believe I was talking about the Captain, did you? Besides, I rather think you of all people would know how gorgeous he is." I winked at her, moving out of the way as she made to hit me. "Seriously though, do you know who that other man is?" I glanced over to the end of the footbridge and was surprised to see them both walking over to us. I was intrigued by that other man; I wonder what it would be like to run my hands through his wavy light brown hair I thought absently. I suppressed a grin at the thought.

"What are you grinning about Lieutenant?" Captain Archer asked me with a smile on his face. My cheeks flushed a deep crimson almost immediately; I was always terribly nervous and shy with talking to superior officers.

"Perhaps she finds your new hair cut amusing Cap'n." offered the mystery man. I almost died when he started speaking, a positively sexy southern American drawl. I had a soft spot for accents and his was in my top ten favourites.

"Good one, Trip! At least you think you are funny." They both started laughing. Rachel cleared her throat, silencing them as they looked at her expectantly.

"Commander Charles Tucker, this is your new engineer, Lieutenant Louise Hatcher." She introduced, gesturing to where I stood.

"Please to meet you, Lieutenant." Commander Tucker greeted, holding out his hand. I reached out tentatively and shook his hand. I took a sharp intake of breath as I looked up to his face. His clear blue eyes almost sparkled as we held each others gaze. I recovered myself in time to answer,

"The pleasure is all mine, Commander." My voice was slightly breathless, I inwardly cringed as Captain Archer and Rachel exchanged a knowing look.

"We will see you on board then, Rachel, Lieutenant." Captain Archer said, pulling slightly on Commander Tucker's arm. Unbeknownst to me, he was still staring straight at me. My gaze had shot straight to the ground after the introductions. Trying to regain some self dignity was difficult after being caught staring unabashedly at your superior officer and then the first thing you say to said superior officer sounds like a breathless whisper.

"See you there, Jonathan, Trip." Rachel replied, there was a lengthy pause as all eyes turned to me. Rachel nudged me surreptiously.

"Louise," she hissed. My head snapped up to meet the expectant faces of Captain Archer and Commander Trip. My face burned a bright red, further compounding my embarrassment. I cleared my throat in order to cover the awkward silence.

"See you on board Captain, Commander." I acknowledged at long last, my breath hitching on 'Commander' as I met his eyes once more.

"Call me Trip, Lieutenant." He called as Captain Archer led him away. A moment of silence passed as I stared where Trip had stood. Unbeknownst to me, Rachel was standing with her hands on her hips and looking at me pointedly. It was a few more minutes before I realised this.

"What?" I asked, not meeting her eyes.

"What, she says," she replied, rolling her eyes, "I think someone has a crush on our Chief Engineer." She paused for effect, "And I think our Chief Engineer has a crush on you."

"No!" I turned sharply towards her, "As if he would."

"And just why not? You're beautiful, intelligent, in his field." Rachel countered reasonably.

"Well…" I couldn't really find an answer, "I don't know." I finished lamely. Rachel looked at me sympathetically.

"Let's head to the ship." I nodded glumly before following Rachel towards the shuttle transport.

I pushed open the shuttle door and allowed Rachel to step out before me. When I climbed out, I was faced with a group of six people standing in front of me. I noted absently that Trip was standing closest to me.

"Welcome to the Enterprise, Lieutenant Hatcher. These lovely people are the senior officers aboard this ship." He gestured to Trip standing next to me. "This is Commander Tucker, whom you've already met." At this, he winked at me and my heart sped up marginally. "This is our helmsman, Ensign Travis Mayweather; Our Communications Officer, Ensign Hoshi Sato; Commander T'Pol, our science officer who has just rejoined us by accepting a commission from Starfleet; And last but not least our Tactical and Armoury Officer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed." He smile broadly,

"Pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant." I could not believe my luck. Lieutenant Reed was British! I had a soft spot for British men and their accents. I blushed slightly under the attention of his piercing gaze.

"Pleasure to meet you as well, Lieutenant." I replied softly.

"Lieutenant Reed, please show her to her quarters. The rest of you are dismissed." He walked out of the shuttle bay with Rachel hot on his heels. Lieutenant Reed gestured towards the door,

"After you, Lieutenant." I walked out of the door ahead of him.

"Thankyou, Lieutenant." I said after he caught up with me.

"Please, call me Malcolm. After all you aren't my subordinate." He offered, as he touched my shoulder lightly. I felt a chill run through me at the touch, I shivered slightly.

"Are you cold? I've always found the temperature to be quite comfortable." He looked to me expectantly. I almost laughed at the absurdity of it, as if I could possible voice the fact he caused me to shiver and it had nothing to do with being cold.

"No, I'm fine, Malcolm and please, call me Louise." I answered instead, flashing him a smile.

"Here we are, Louise." he said as he reached a door on B deck, "Your quarters." He pressed the button which opened the door for me.

"Thanks Malcolm." I said as he handed me back my bags which he had carried back for me from the shuttle.

"Anytime, Louise, just call if you need anything." He grinned slightly as he turned to walk away.

That voice and grin will be the death of me! I thought as I watched him start to walk down the corridor.

"Malcolm!" I called out to him and waited until he turned around.

"Yes?"

"You aren't going to come in and stay with me awhile?" I asked innocently. As soon as the words left my mouth I regretted it, I almost gasped out loud.

Since when do you talk like that Louise? I thought to myself, completely missing the red that had taken to Malcolm's face. He cleared his throat uncomfortably.

"Um-I-I'm sorry Louise, but-but my shift starts in ten minutes." He managed to stammer out.

"Alright then, see you later." I quickly walked into my quarters, positively mortified by my behaviour.

"What is wrong with you?" I berated myself as I looked in the mirror of my bathroom. Trust me to fall for two guys in the same day.

But Malcolm is different… a voice piped up from the back of my head. He is very different to Trip, I mused, more of a gentleman. I sighed happily. The last man to carry my bags for me was my father, when I started at the Academy. I had long since given up hope on finding a man with old world values. I shook my head of these thoughts I started to unpack my bags.

Some time later I made my way out of my quarters to the mess hall where I was to meet Rachel for dinner. Ten minutes later, after walking through the same corridor for the third time, I realised I was lost. I sighed in frustration as I turned a corner, the next thing I knew I was on the floor looking up into the shocked face of Malcolm Reed.

"Oh I do apologise, Louise!" he exclaimed as he bent down to help me up. I didn't reply because at that moment the only thing that my mind registered was the fact that Malcolm had his hand on my back as he helped me sit up.

"I should have been watching where I was going." I finally replied, turning to look at him.

"No! No, it was my fault. That always happens when I read and walk at the same time." He grinned sheepishly. I laughed out loud.

"Well that's better than being lost on your own ship." I retorted as he grasped my hand and helped me stand up.

"Lost? Where are you trying to go? I'll help you." He inquired; I blushed slightly under his intense gaze that was focusing on me as he waited for my response.

"Well, I'm trying to get to the mess hall. Looks like I'll starve before that happens." A smile lit up his face.

"Really, that's just where I'm heading." A nervous look flashed across his face. "Would you like to join me?" he asked, as reserved look in his eyes. At the thought of having dinner with Malcolm, my plans with Rachel completely flew out of my head.

"Yes! Of course!" I exclaimed loudly before covering my mouth, "I-I mean, that would be nice Malcolm." He grinned at me as he offered me his arm.

"Lucky you're not our helmsman." He remarked jokingly. I looked at him mock reproachfully.

"Thanks Malcolm, you made me feel a lot better." He laughed and then we walked towards the turbo lift and got in.

"Right." I said looking around the turbo lift as we made our way up to Deck D. "Must remember where these are located." We rode up the rest of the way in silence, with me hoping he wouldn't notice that I still was clutching his arm.

"Okay Louise." Malcolm said, interrupting the silence. "The mess hall is here, to our left."

"You know," I said as we walked through the mess hall doors, "We really should have an automated direction system on this ship so I don't have to rely on gallant Armoury Officers to show me around." I grinned at him slyly.

"I'll be sure to mention it to the Captain." He replied, smiling back at me. I finally unhooked my arm from his so we both could get our food. I glanced surreptiously at Malcolm as he busied himself with his plate and I thought I saw just a hint of disappointment on his face.

No! He is not disappointed because you aren't holding his arm! Get a grip on yourself Hatcher! A voice snapped inside my head as we made our way over to the table and sat down. Malcolm looked at me seriously,

"Louise?"

"Yes, Malcolm?" I replied, a bit apprehensive at what he had to say. My mind beginning to race away with thoughts from the innocuous to him sweeping me off to his quarters.

"Did you find the way to the table alright?" I couldn't help it, I laughed out loud,

"Oh, if it wasn't for you I would have found myself on the bridge with my food." I returned sarcastically, playfully hitting his arm. He soon joined in and laughed along with me. In truth I was captivated by the sound, it was genuine. I could tell immediately that he didn't' laugh like this often because several crew members who were eating nearby turned and looked shocked at the sight.

"I'm never going to hear the end of this am I?" I asked him once we both stopped laughing. I was greatly relieved and also disappointed at the fact that his serious tone was only a joke. Part of me wanted him to sweep me off my feet and carry me to his quarters.

"It doesn't look like it." He replied with a smile, "It will blow over in time though." I returned his smile as we both started to eat. Unbeknownst to me, Rachel sat with Captain Archer on the other side of the room looking annoyed and concerned.

"Jon, have you seen Louise? It's not like her to be late. Maybe I should have told her you were coming." She grinned as she looked at him.

"Yes, I have seen her." He replied looking straight at our table where Malcolm and I were laughing again.

"Where-?" she began to ask as she followed Captain Archer's line of sight. She gasped, "So predictable, Louise." She muttered to a bewildered Captain Archer.

"Come again, Rachel?" he asked.

"She loves England." She stated simply.

"But I thought she-"

"Yeah, she thinks Trip is attractive, gorgeous was her word actually. I'm worried though."

"What about?"

"Well, you saw the way he was looking at her this afternoon, and I doubt he missed the way Louise looked at him either. But now with Malcolm…" she paused staring interestedly across the room at our table, "I mean, have you ever seen him laugh like that?" she finished incredulously.

"Can't say that I have." He replied shaking his head slightly, "It would break his heart if Trip got one up over him."

"Particularly since we know how Trip treats-" she began bitterly.

"Rachel!" he admonished, looking at her and eyebrow raised in surprise, "I thought you liked him."

"So did I," she replied, "That is until that day you were down in that Xindi colony…" he turned sharply to me,

"What happened?" his voice dangerously low. I patted his arm reassuringly,

"Darling, its nothing to fret over." I said calmly looking him straight in the eyes, "Trip tried to take his usual flirting one step too far but I put him in his place."

"What did you do?" he asked an amused glint in his eye, his amusement over Trip being put in his place overran the anger at Trip's outrageous flirting.

"I told him no-one touches the Captain's woman."

"You didn't?"

"Yes, Jon I did and T'Pol proceeded to interject that you do not actually own me and that I am my own person. Then everyone just laughed but Trip kept a respectful distance after that."

"Well I'm going to keep an extra eye on him now."

"What would I do without you?" I mused sarcastically. He rolled his eyes before looking back over to our table.

"Personally I think Louise is better suited to Malcolm than Trip even though she is an engineer. We will keep a sharp eye on those three; it's our duty as Captains to look after our crew."

"Definitely, I mean he may be your best friend but I won't have him break my best friend's heart by ruining her chances with Malcolm." I glared at Trip who had just walked into the mess hall.

"Okay so we will watch from afar and only interfere if necessary. Deal, Rachel?"

"Deal, Jonathan." I replied as I leaned in towards him, he met me halfway and pressed his lips against mine.

"Much better than a handshake, wouldn't you say?" he grinned cheekily.

Malcolm and I were sitting talking quietly after we finished our dinner when we were interrupted by a loud confident voice.

"Good evening Louise." I looked up from talking to Malcolm and into those crystal blue eyes.

"Good evening, Commander Tucker." I replied, blushing slightly, completely missing the contemptuous glare that Malcolm sent in his direction. Commander Tucker sat down and put his arm round me.

"Please, call me Trip. I said that you could remember?" he said casually, flashing a grin at me.

"Well, okay…Trip." I replied.

"Anyway, Louise, what were you saying about your first day at the Academy?" Malcolm interrupted loudly. It was now Trip's turn to glare at Malcolm as I turned back to him and continued talking.

"Oh, yes! I was so eager to start that I was a day early for my first lecture!" I laughed at the memory. Suddenly I tensed, I felt a hand slide up my leg, and I knew it wasn't Malcolm, who had both his hands on the table as he recounted his first day,

"Well that's not as bad as mine, I-"

"What do you think you are doing?" I asked coldly, his hand remained on my knee as he smirked arrogantly at me. Malcolm looked at me surprised.

"Well, I-thought-" he spluttered, utterly confused. It then dawned on me what that sounded like to Malcolm, I reached out and grasped his hand.

"No, Malcolm! I wasn't talking to you!" I explained hurriedly.

"Oh, well then who-?" his question died on his lips as you took in Trip's smirk and the obvious place where his hand was resting.

"You heard Louise, Trip." He said coldly, turning to him.

"Yeah, but I think she likes it." He returned calmly as he slid his hand further up my leg. I couldn't help it; I yelped and jumped up, desperately trying to ignore the startled looks everyone was giving me. Trip didn't' let this bother him, he just stood himself and spoke as casually as if discussing the weather.

"No need to stand on my account, Louise." He winked as he continued, "You know where my quarters are." With that he walked away. I quickly sat back down, moving my chair closer to Malcolm's.

"Don't let him bother you too much." Malcolm advised, "He is like that all the time. Sometimes I'm not sure he even knows where to draw the line." He reached over and curled his fingers around my own. I was till in shock over what had just transpired.

"What? He does that to everyone?" Malcolm smiled at my disbelief.

"No, only the attractive ones." He replied meaningfully as he gave my fingers a light squeeze. My face flushed red, which alone was almost enough to make me forget about Trip's unrestrained flirting.

"On that point," I asked, throwing caution to the wind, "Surely a man such as you is married or at least already attached." I tried to sound casual as I asked because in truth, that question had been burning in my mind ever since I first saw him. Malcolm looked surprised at my question and his cheeks coloured slightly at my implication that I thought he was attractive.

"Unfortunately no, Louise, I am neither." He replied, "You?"

"Neither am I, Malcolm." I paused before continuing, "But I wouldn't say that's unfortunate either."

"Perhaps, I would say the same thing," he replied with a soft smile, "given the current circumstances." My heart beat felt as though it's speed had increased exponentially at his statement. I returned his smile in like and found myself caught in his eyes. The sparkling shade of blue caused my breath to constrict in my chest.

"Ahem." the sound of a throat being cleared right next to our table snapped us right back to reality, and to the sight of Captain Archer and Rachel standing there with bemused expressions on their faces.

"Captains!" we both exclaimed in unison before bolting to our feet.

"Apologies, we were...distracted." Malcolm explained feebly.

"I see." Archer replied, still sporting a smirk. "I guess that explains why Louise forgot to join us for dinner tonight," my cheeks burned red in embarrassment,

"Captain, I completely forgot," I apologised, "I am so sorry, I also had no idea Captain Archer would be joining us." Rachel smothered a grin behind her hand,

"Yeah, I guess I should have mentioned that to you before." she replied, now not bothered to hide the grin she was sporting, "No harm done."

"I guess Malcolm can be a distraction sometimes." he winked at me. I blushed profusely and Malcolm emitted a sound as though he were choking before composing himself.

"Sir, I -" he began, hoping to clear someone his indignation at the captain's joke.

" Malcolm, relax." The Captain patted his shoulder bracingly, "Sit down, the both of you." We sat down shortly followed by the Captain and Rachel. " You are the most respectful, professional officer I have ever had the pleasure of having under my command," he directed at Malcolm, "That's why I have a bit of fun at your expense sometimes.

Malcolm nodded his head curtly at the Captain, acknowledging the compliment.

Silence fell among the four of us as we sat there looking at each other, or more precisely, Malcolm and I were looking at each other.

I was surprised at what this man, this armoury officer made me feel. I had barely been aboard the ship for one day and already things had changed so much.

Should you really be allowing yourself to feel like this so early. A voice whispered in my head, my subconscious pointing out the obvious. You don't even know what precarious position you are with Commander Tucker after the stunt he pulled tonight and he is your boss! I bit my lips as I pondering over my thoughts, as much as I was really warming to Malcolm, I knew I had to back off and be as professional as I could be, starting out with clearing the air with Trip.

I broke eye contact with Malcolm and cleared my throat to try and clear the almost fog like feeling from my brain; I knew I could sit there all day if I let myself, he definitely wasn't without charm. I stood up, placing my napkin on my plate.

"If you all will excuse me, I must be retiring now," I looked at the Captain and Rachel, avoiding Malcolm's gaze." I do have an early shift tomorrow."

"Of course," Rachel, shooting me a puzzled look, "sleep well." I knew she could tell I was avoiding Malcolm's eyes hence her puzzled expression. There wasn't much that she missed when it came to her crew or her friends.

With that I stepped away from the table and walked off as quickly as dignity would allow. As I reached for the button of the door, my hands was stopped by one with calloused fingertips.

"Louise? Did I do something to upset you?" I turned to face Malcolm who was looking genuinely upset.

"Malcolm, definitely not! I had a fantastic time tonight with you, I just have to go and fix something before I regret it forever." I suppressed a shudder at what Admiral Forrest would say if I let such a personal situation destroy my career on my first day! I pressed the button and walked out of the mess hall leaving him behind looking lost and feeling quite confused.

I walked briskly down the corridors, twisting through the turns that I hoped would lead me toward where Commander Tucker's quarters were. Being my first day on this ship and recalling my earlier trouble to find the mess hall, I knew my search was doomed. I heard a loud footstep crash down the hall and I spun around trying to find the source of the noise; there was nothing there. I shook my head and began my search for a comm. panel. Unbeknownst to me, Malcolm was lurking around the corners as I went, clearly his curiosity getting the better of him after my cryptic response earlier.

"Ah, just want I needed." I spoke to no one in particular as I spied a comm. panel along the door. I knew my only chance of making any progress was to call Rachel, so with my finger pressed upon the comm I took I deep breath.

Hatcher to Robinson I need your help

Louise? Came the reply, puzzlement ripe in her voice, what is happening? You left rather abruptly at dinner-

I know, I know, I cut her off mid sentence, I'll explain later but right now I need to find Commander Tucker's quarters.

Why? came the still very puzzled reply.

We had a bit of an altercation at dinner and I would hate for this to reflect on my career in any negative way.

You owe me an explanation late - a proper one. She conceded before giving me the directions to his quarters.

I promise I will, Goodnight Rachel.

I moved as quickly as dignity would allow through the corridors towards Trip's quarters still unaware of the shadow that followed me very closely.

I took a deep breath as I finally reached his door and pressed the buzzer.

"Coming!" Trip called out as he reached the door. As it slid open, in an unforgettable instant I forgot what I had come to talk to him about as he stood in front of me wearing nothing but a pair of pants just resting on his hips. "Louise? Everything okay?"

Clearing my head of the unwanted thoughts that had immediately flew unbidden in my mind I nodded with a smile.

"Sorry, if I disturbed you Commander, I just really wanted to address what happened in the mess hall tonight." I struggled to keep my eyes from wondering further down from his eyes.

"I am so glad you came, I really am." Trip responded, relief very much evident in his voice. "I was going to call you first thing in the morning, but this is a good a time as any, please come on in." He placed his hand on my shoulder and ushered me inside the door sliding shut behind me.

Only a few meters down the corridor, Malcolm leant his head back against the cool metal wall and sighed.

I thought we had a connection, I guess insulting women to get them into your quarters is all the rage now. he thought bitterly, before pushing off the wall and quickly making his way to his quarters for the night,

"Please take a seat." Trip gestured to the chair opposite his at the small table in his room. I sat down tentatively, unsure what was going to happen. an awkward moment of silence fell between us as suddenly I had no idea what I wanted to say; I was torn between annoyance and disgust at his behaviour earlier and fear and submission at the risk of my career on this ship. Thankfully Trip took the lead.

"I know why you are here, Louise." he took a deep breath as he joined me at the table, "Firstly I want to say I absolutely apologise for my behaviour in the mess hall earlier. It was disgusting and I really don't know what came over me."

"Yes it was, and I really appreciate your apology Trip as I want us to be able to amicable relationship both professionally as well as personally." I replied, relief evident in my voice.

"We definitely will, you don't have to worry about that." he replied in soothing tones, "This is why I wanted to seek you out to apologise in the first place." he smiled tentatively at me and after a few moments I returned the smile. After it, it was as if all the tension and awkwardness from earlier disappeared and we fell into an easy conversation about what was coming up with the engines down to Chef's surprise special of the week. During this time we had moved to the small couch he kept in his quarters and continued to chat. I felt better than I had in some time, it was great to know I could have this friendship and easiness with my boss despite our awkward start.

The next morning I opened my eyes and rubbed the stiffness that spread in my neck, I looked around me confused as to where I was and why I was sleeping on a couch.

"Good morning Lieutenant!" Trip greeted with a smile as he re-entered the room with some plates of breakfast in his hand. My heart skipped a beat as I realised what happened: I fell asleep and stayed the night in the Commander's quarters!

I jumped up on my feet and struggled to try and straighten out my uniform.

"I am so sorry for falling asleep, sir! You should have woken me!" I was brushing through my hair with me fingers in an effort to tidy it up as I spoke, "I will be leaving now and it won't happen again!"

"Louise! its fine!" he replied with a laugh as he put the plates down on the table before walking up to me, "I don't mind, we had an enjoyable night and let the time get away from us. Don't worry at all! Besides, I got us breakfast." he grinned as he gestured towards the steaming plates of bacon and eggs.

I smiled in an attempt to cover my embarrassment and knew I was failing miserably.

"Thank you Trip, but I will pass, I did promise Rachel I would meet her breakfast today." I nodded and quickly made my way out of his quarters and towards the Mess Hall.

I entered the Mess Hall and scanned the crowd for Rachel, my eyes lit up when I saw her, I desperately had to speak to her.

"Good morning, Rachel." I said quietly as I joined her table as she sat reading data on a portable reading device. She looked up surprise evident in her face.

"Louise!" she reached out and clasped my hand, "What happened to you? I expected another call later in the night but I didn't hear from you at all?"

"I was with Trip - we got to talking, he apologised for his behaviour at dinner. "at her quizzical glance, I proceeded to explain to her what happened.

"Hmmm." Rachel responded, taking it all in, "Doesn't explain why I couldn't get in contact with you through your room? What happened then?"

"I guess we got carried away and I ended up staying the night." Unbeknownst to me - an almost strangled sound came from the table next to ours and the owner of the sound got up and walked out very quickly leaving his armoury notes behind.

"What do you mean stayed the night?" Rachel asked, her voice measured and calm, clearly waiting for what I had to say on the matter before jumping to conclusions.

"We were talking almost all night then I fell asleep on the couch and woke up there in the morning. I hadn't even realised I fell asleep, trust me, it's not something I planned on." Rachel's face betrayed the relief she felt and I laughed at her as I realised what she thought I had done. "Rachel! As if you could think something like that of me!" She held her hands up in mock defence as she started laughing.

"Hey! it was your words!"

"What are we all laughing about here?" Captain Archer's voice called out as he reached the table with his breakfast. I stopped laughing and stood up.

"Captain! Good morning, apologies for sitting at your table, I will leave you and the Captain to your breakfast." I made to move away when he placed a hand on my shoulder.

"No, Louise, please sit down. Rachel and I would love it." I glanced at Rachel and she nodded with a smile. I sat back down tentatively.

"Thank you, Captain." I replied gratefully.

A peaceful silence fell over the table as the Captain and Rachel ate their breakfast. suddenly a conversation at the table next to us caught my attention.

"Where is Malcolm? He left his PADD here, he said he was going to join us for breakfast." at the reply from the second voice, which belonged to Travis Mayweather my face drained of all colour and my heart raced uncontrollably.

"It was weird, he sounded like he was listening to something then quickly got up and ran out of here, like he was about to throw up." Travis shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know what happened, guess he heard something which didn't sit right with him."

I turned back to face Rachel who heard the same conversation.

"Oh no, Malcolm!" It hit me that he must have heard my response to Rachel's question and assumed I spent the night with Trip. For some reason this really didn't sit right with me, I hated the idea of Malcolm thinking anything less than good thoughts about me. "I have to go, excuse me!" and with that I practically ran out of the mess hall with the thought of finding Malcolm the only one thought filling my head.

I don't know how this happened, I thought to myself, I really don't, how did I suddenly come to feel so much for a man I just met? Why does his opinion of me and what I do matter so much? I need to find him!

I turned into the same corridor for what felt like the hundredth time and I pressed my back against the cool steel and stifled a sob - I was never going to be able to find him or his quarters. I sunk slowly against the wall until I hit the ground. in that moment I didn't really care what it looked like; a lieutenant sitting on the floor sobbing. The sound of doors opening next to me fell on deaf ears as I buried my face in my arms, wallowing in self pity.

"Louise?" that British accent cut through the haze of my sorrow and I looked up to the owner of the voice, my eyes red rimmed and tear stained. "Are you alright?" It was Malcolm! I had unintentionally found his room and my heart swelled at the thought.

"I couldn't find you." I replied simply, sobs still choking my words. I stood up off the floor and faced him, unsure of what to say or do now that I found him.

"I would have thought there was other people you might have been more interested in looking for this morning." he responded stiffly. Confirming for me that he heard my conversation this morning.

"You heard me wrong!" I blurted out, not being able to stand anymore that he believed this.

"What do you mean?" he replied looking puzzled.

"When you overheard me this morning in the mess hall; you misheard." I replied, taking a deep breath and proceeded to explain to him what happened. "I fell asleep on his couch that's all, because I didn't have the discipline to leave before I got to tired; I was so relieved that my boss didn't hate me, that I got carried away and fell asleep where I sat." my cheeks tinged with red, it was embarrassing and it made me feel quite silly especially with the fall out it has caused.

"So, you haven't slept with Commander Tucker?" he asked cautiously, "Though, I do know it is none of my business, just...curious." he added on hurriedly, but I knew; nothing had ever been more clear to me that it was in that moment.

"Never." I replied with a small smile.

The longest moment passed as we looked at each other, allowing what had transpired to truly sink in. Malcolm cleared his throat and took a step forward, looking uneasy and unsure about how he wanted to proceed. I opened my mouth, ready to speak to him when I found his deliciously warm lips pressed almost urgently against mine. My heart felt like it skipped the next 5 beats before desire flooded my system and propelled me forward returning his kiss most passionately. It felt right, so very right being in his arms so close to him like this. I brought my hands up and tangled them through his hair as I deepened the kiss. A moment too short later passed before broke apart, breathing heavily. I looked up into his eyes, delighted to find them dark with desire, his eyes devouring me as we stood there in each other's arms. To have this neat and ordered officer so open and dishevelled in my arms felt good, felt powerful that I could do this to him.

"Louise?" he took a deep breath, "Come inside with me?" he sounded nonchalant, but once again his eyes gave me the answer I sought, the thought sent shivers down my spine; shivers of delight.

"I should think I would, Malcolm." I replied with a grin, bringing my hands up and laying them flat against his hard chest. "I am so very glad we cleared up that miscommunication. I was worried you were going to make it difficult for me." I moved my hands up further and traced the outline of his chiselled jaw, the touch of my hands on his skin causing my heart rate to increase exponentially.

"Difficult? Believe me when I thought I had no chance in the word." He ran his hands over my head smoothing back my hair before resting them both on my face. The touch of his calloused hands on my smooth skin, causing a delicious friction that I couldn't wait to explore. "To give you the choice between and engineer and an armoury officer. I did think I would have a long road ahead of me."

"Believe me when I say, it was never any contest." I closed the gap between us and pressed my lips to his almost desperately. He returned the kiss fervently as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me towards him, into the welcoming comfort of his quarters and towards his bed. the whoosh of the doors closing after us that ensured our privacy also ensured that my life would never be the same again. My gallant armoury officer, who I felt I knew so intimately yet had so much to learn about had changed my life so dramatically in a matter of days. As I lay ensconced in his warm, strong arms, I quivered with anticipation at what was yet still to come as we let our passions ride us high into the night.