Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Waiting

Waiting

by Mara

Summary: Malcolm and Hoshi have a mission of their very own. It was *supposed* to be easy.

NOTES: This isn’t the story I intended to write, but it’s something 🙂 I got
this idea from the saga that ate a good chunk of this week for my boss. She
might or might not appreciate the result.
DEDICATION: For Stexgirl on her birthday, 2/28. ::hugs::

* * * * *

It should have been a walk in the park, Hoshi thought. Well, except for the lack
of a park. And the difficulty in walking anywhere in this crowded city. Which
probably explained everything. Or something like that.

“What do you mean?” Malcolm growled into the communicator in the other room.

Hoshi sat on the bed and banged her head against the wall, enjoying the rhythmic
sound of the thuds.

“You’ve been promising the same thing for two days!” Malcolm said, his accent
becoming more pronounced.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

“Let me speak to whoever’s in charge.”

Thud. Thud. Thud.

And it had all started so *nicely*.

* * * * *

Four days previously:

Stepping into the captain’s ready room, Hoshi found Malcolm already standing at
attention, his back ramrod straight. She caught her breath. Was something wrong?

The captain looked up. “Oh, there you are, Hoshi. At ease. I just have a little
project for the two of you.”

She could practically feel Malcolm’s confusion. What would the ship’s linguist
and the ship’s armory officer need to work on together? Jon was not-so-subtly
trying to hide his amusement, and it made her nervous. When the man was
plotting, dangerous things could happen…

Bravely, Malcolm sallied forth. “What kind of a project, sir?”

Jon glanced down at a padd in his hands, fighting a grin, and Hoshi held her
breath. “I’m sending the two of you on a short away mission to pick up supplies
for the ship.”

Hoshi blinked. Malcolm shifted. “Sir?”

Jon smiled. “Chef has threatened to mutiny if he doesn’t get some fresh
ingredients, and he wants Hoshi to buy them for him. Trip says we’re critically
short on certain engineering supplies and he only trusts three or four people on
the ship to buy them–one of them being you, Malcolm. And, of course, you can
provide security for Hoshi while she does any necessary translating. It makes
perfect sense.”

“Yes, sir,” Malcolm said faintly.

Hoshi couldn’t even respond, just managed a nod. That tricky bastard. He’d
decided the two of them needed a vacation together and he’d just arranged it.
Her mouth twitched. He might not be subtle, but you had to love him.

“T’Pol and Travis have found a trade planet about a day away from here and we’ll
drop you off and come back for you in four days.” He handed the padd to Hoshi.
“Here’s what you need to buy. Any questions?”

“No, Captain,” they said together.

“Dismissed.”

Dazed, she followed Malcolm out the door, pausing on the other side. Malcolm’s
blank face broke into a broad grin and he hovered over her, leaning in to speak
into her ear. “Four days alone with you? I think I’m in heaven.”

Her heart warmed. “We must figure out how to thank him later.”

* * * * *

Malcolm carefully piloted the shuttle onto the tightly-packed landing strip.
“Wouldn’t do to scratch the paint,” he said, frowning at her when she laughed at
his caution.

They were met at the door by a squat little man with what looked like a
permanent frown etched onto his face. Or maybe his forehead was supposed to look
like that? It was hard to tell.

Shoving a high-tech clipboard at Hoshi, he said, “These forms must be filled out
before you can disembark. Return them to me when you are done.”

He turned around and marched back into what must be the port headquarters,
leaving Hoshi with a sinking feeling in her stomach.

* * * * *

It took them three hours to fill out the forms, including the ten minutes Hoshi
spent using her extensive knowledge of curse words in 18 different languages,
and Malcolm’s fifteen minute rant about bureaucracy.

But they finally had every slot filled in with the appropriate information, from
the exact weight of their shuttle, the amount of time (to the hour) they
intended to spend in port, the mix of fuel their shuttle used, and the list of
diseases they *didn’t* have because they’d never been near the planets in
question.

Hoshi went to deliver the forms herself, feeling it might possibly prejudice
their entry if Malcolm strangled the port official.

It took half an hour in line behind something with three tentacles and a very
canine looking alien who argued with the official over whether he was allowed to
bring his drasha into the city. Hoshi considered trying to figure out what a
drasha was, but queasily decided that just this once she didn’t want to know.

Information delivered, she escaped back to the shuttle, where Malcolm paced back
and forth like a caged animal.

“Let’s go!” she said, grabbing his arm. “Preferably before he finds some bit of
information we didn’t provide. My mother’s maiden name. Your father’s Royal Navy
serial number. My sexual preferences.”

Malcolm smirked at her. “Those are only for me to know, of course.” He let her
lead him out the gates and into the bustling city.

* * * * *

Their first stop was at a nearby hotel for visitors, where they purchased the
use of a suite. Malcolm smiled at her. “We need someplace to store our
purchases, so we *have* to get the larger space.”

“What a shame.”

The rooms were…exactly what you’d expect: bland and inoffensive. On the other
hand, there was a bed. And what more could you ask? Malcolm, ever safety
conscious, swept the room for surveillance equipment and whatever else it was he
searched for. Nodding, he indicated the room was clear.

“Four days,” Hoshi said with a happy sigh. Dropping their things on the floor,
they sat down together on the bed and leaned back.

To find the ceiling covered with a large mirror.

After a moment of shock, Hoshi started to giggle. “Some things are just the same
throughout the universe.”

Malcolm chuckled. “Did we get the honeymoon suite?”

“Do they *have* honeymoons on this planet?” She rolled over and laughed against
his shoulder. “Maybe it’s part of some important before-bed ritual?”

“I don’t want to know.”

Laughter dying down, Hoshi realized they’d best get on with their mission.

They decided to concentrate on making their purchases as quickly as possible, in
order to maximize their free time.

“Too bad we can’t split up,” she said. “That would make it go even faster.”
Malcolm just glared at her and, rolling her eyes, she kissed him on the nose. “I
know we can’t, and besides, it’s fun to walk around with you.”

Negotiating for food items took the better part of the afternoon, between
scanning and testing things to ensure they wouldn’t poison humans, Vulcans, or
Denobulans, bargaining the prices down to something reasonable, and arranging
for the fresh items to be delivered to their shuttle just before they departed.

The twin red suns were starting to set as they left the food market and set out
for the hotel. They dawdled their way through the city, dodging motorized carts,
pedestrians, and small cycles that dashed through every tiny gap in the crowds.

Malcolm had his left arm around Hoshi’s shoulders, and his right rested firmly
on the phase pistol hanging on his hip, but she chose to ignore his incessant
scanning for possible dangers and just enjoy the feel of him so close.

“It reminds me of Bangkok,” she said absently.

“Hmm.”

“I think we should get something to eat now.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“And then we should go back to the hotel and screw like bunnies.”

Malcolm choked.

“Just checking if you were listening.”

A long pause as they turned a corner and dodged two obviously drunken aliens.
“Does that mean you don’t want to screw like bunnies?”

* * * * *

They began the next day bright and early, determined to finish their purchases
in time to travel outside the city to see some of the sights. Their waiter the
previous evening had spoken in glowing terms of a waterfall and animal preserve
an hour away, and Malcolm only had to look at the excitement on Hoshi’s face to
agree instantly that it sounded like a nice trip.

Trekking in the opposite direction from the markets, they began the quest for
Trip’s bits and parts and thingamabobs.

Which, honestly, was as much as Hoshi could make out of the list Malcolm was
studying so seriously. It always astounded her that she could speak and read
more languages than most people could name, and yet one minute of Engineeringese
left her brain reeling.

She gamely did her best to help Malcolm talk to the various purveyors of
whatchamacallits and doohickeys, and they made progress through the list. They
were stymied for an hour, however, by the need to buy something to do with the
warp nacelles. What precisely it was, Hoshi never grasped, but it was large and
important and had to be adaptable in some way that Malcolm insisted Trip would
need.

It seemed there was only one vendor who could provide an appropriate object, a
shifty-looking creature rather like an overgrown howler monkey. Attempting to
overcome her prejudices, Hoshi told herself he was probably a
wonderful…whatever he was, kind to his children, giving to local charities.

Somehow she still found herself wanting to walk away. Malcolm seemed to share
her unease, shifting on his feet, his hand twitching toward the phase pistol at
least three separate times.

But if he was the only one who could provide this thing, then they’d have to
deal with him.

“Of course, of course. I can have it delivered to your hotel this very evening
if you wish.”

“That would be fine,” Malcolm said, nodding.

“You will need to be present.”

Malcolm and Hoshi looked at each other. “Why?” he asked.

“To sign for full payment.”

Thus ensued a long conversation about just how things were done in this corner
of the universe, why other vendors didn’t seem to follow the same rules, and a
long paean to the wonders of personal service.

Malcolm wasn’t impressed, but when the vendor calmly pointed out that they were
welcome to purchase this item from any of his competitors, Malcolm had to give
in.

“When will it arrive?”

“Between eight and 14 bells.”

Scowling, Malcolm nodded shortly. “Fine. We’ll be there.”

He stalked away, Hoshi scrambling to keep up with him. She started to say
something, but closed her mouth at the look on his face. Best to let annoyed
Malcolms sulk, rather than try to cheer them up.

* * * * *

By the time they’d completed the rest of their purchases, there was just enough
time to grab a quick meal from a street vendor and rush back to the hotel.

Hoshi eyed the bedroom longingly, but Malcolm was certainly not in the mood and
besides, it would be embarrassing to be interrupted by their delivery.

She settled for stepping around boxes and bags and curling up next to him on the
couch-like object in the main room. Fiercely poking at a padd, he was obviously
taking his annoyance out on the object, so she left him to it. She dug a padd
out from the bottom of a pack and started reading the backlog of linguistics
journals she’d been saving for such an occasion.

Malcolm finally relaxed enough to put one arm around her and continue working
one handed. She snuggled against his shoulder, fidgeting until she found a
position in which she could read her padd and also nuzzle against him when she
wanted.

His smell was an odd mixture of the polluted air of the city, a spicy tang that
was probably the result of the curry-type thing they’d eaten for dinner, and
something that was Malcolm.

The sun set and she got up to turn on the lights. Malcolm’s scowl was back.

“Where is it?”

“Are they late?” She automatically found herself looking around for a clock and
shook her head in amusement.

“Yes.”

“Well, it’s too late to do anything about it now, the markets are all closed.
We’ll just have to go back to the store in the morning.”

Muscles tensing, Malcolm nodded once. “If they’ve taken our earnest money…”

“Then we’ll complain to the port and get them arrested. Don’t worry.”

“That’s my job, love, remember?”

She knelt in front of him, leaning her elbows on his knees. “Yes, but not right
this moment. C’mon, let’s get some sleep.”

“Fine. But first thing in the morning–”

“Yes, dear.”

* * * * *

Hoshi sighed as she tried to keep up with Malcolm. Normally he was content to
wend his way through the crowds like everyone else, but this morning he was
moving full steam ahead and expecting everyone to get out of his way. It was
working–to an extent–although she found herself apologizing rather more than
usual.

Around a gaggle of arguing Andorians, straight through a group of natives,
detouring around a man selling a lumpy blue fruit, and they were at the
electronics market. Without pausing, Malcolm was through the door and stalking
down the left-hand corridor. Hoshi ducked as a bright orange alien maneuvered a
long pipe toward the door, barely catching up with Malcolm as he made it to the
vendor they sought.

The monkeylike alien wasn’t there, instead there was a creature who looked
faintly avian. “Can I help you?” she (was it a she?) asked.

“I should hope so. We were supposed to have an order delivered last night, but
it never arrived.”

“Oh dear, how unfortunate. Well, let me check our records…”

Hoshi found a clear spot against a nearby wall and settled in, half focusing on
the conversation and half being distracted by the hustle and bustle around her.

“No, that’s not right,” she heard Malcolm say.

Two nearly human beings walked by, arguing loudly about the proper temperature
at which to serve gagh. Hoshi frowned.

“Terribly sorry, sir, but your delivery went to the wrong location. We’ll have
to–”

The rest of the sentence was drowned out by the clamor of a large machine being
rolled by, nearly taking off the heads of various passersby. This was apparently
a common problem, as most people continued their conversations without pause as
they ducked under projecting arms and sharp edges.

“–pick it up ourselves,” Malcolm said, his voice low and angry.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible.”

“Why *not*?”

She strained to hear the answer to that excellent question, but over a sudden
argument between two beings at a nearby stall looking at what was apparently
alien pornography, all she caught was a few words. Something about regulations
and hazardous materials?

Even her excellent hearing gave up the ghost as the pornography argument (and
she really didn’t want to concentrate on what *they* were saying) was
interrupted by three separate beings shouting at each other about refunds. She
could see Malcolm’s expression darkening, and she assumed that meant bad news.

When he stalked away without even looking for her, Hoshi knew she was right. She
caught up with him as he pushed through the door to the building, not even
pausing as he nearly smacked the door into someone’s face.

“Malcolm?”

“It’s on the way. At least, they say it’s on the way. I’d be more inclined to
believe a Vulcan/Andorian treaty filled with mutual love and happiness at this
point.”

“And?”

“And we go back and wait. We *cannot* leave the planet without this. Trip
would…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pleasant.”

“Oh.” She grabbed his arm and managed to slow him down before he ran over a
small child playing happily in the middle of the sidewalk, oblivious to the
crowds.

They entered their hotel room, both grimly considering another boring wait.
Hoshi was ready to kill for some kind of entertainment system, but apparently
this planet’s hotels didn’t have one.

She slumped down on the couch and pulled up her journals again, not nearly as
interested as she had been.

And they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

At approximately hour three, Malcolm started to pace.

Half an hour later, Hoshi threw her padd at him. He caught it and stopped in his
tracks, confused.

“Stop that,” she said through gritted teeth. “Or I will rip your legs off.”

He opened his mouth and then closed it, tiptoeing carefully to sit next to her
on the couch with his own padd.

At hour four, Malcolm tossed down his padd with a curse and strode to the comm
pad set into a small table. With a sigh, Hoshi went into the bedroom and sat
cross-legged on the bed while Malcolm began to argue with the vendor.

It should have been a walk in the park, she thought. Well, except for the lack
of a park. And the difficulty in walking anywhere in this crowded city. Which
probably explained everything. Or something like that.

“What do you mean?” Malcolm growled.

Hoshi banged her head against the wall, enjoying the rhythmic sound of the
thuds.

“You’ve been promising the same thing for two days!” Malcolm said, his accent
becoming more pronounced.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

“Let me speak to whoever’s in charge.”

Thud. Thud. Thud.

And it had all started so *nicely*, she thought with a sigh. Jon had meant well.
He’d intended for them to get some time together, time they desperately needed.
Instead he’d stuck them in a hellish world of waiting.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

“If I don’t see my merchandise here soon, I’m going to take the price out of
your skin! Don’t you hang up on me!”

* * * * *

And somehow the last day on the planet dawned without them being in possession
of their merchandise. Hoshi groaned as Malcolm jumped out of the bed and got
ready to leave. Rolling over, she prepared to follow him.

“No,” he said. “Stay here. Just in case.”

She blinked and he was gone. Monosyllabic Malcolm was dangerous and for a moment
she feared for the safety of anyone who got in his way.

Oh well. That was their problem. Hers was not going insane until he got back.

Eyelids dipping, Hoshi was just slipping back into a lovely, relaxed sleep when
she sat up. Darn it, she had to be dressed in case someone came to make the
delivery. She couldn’t even sleep away the wasted time.

Groaning, she slid out of the bed and went to get cleaned up.

And she waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The door to the room slammed open so hard Hoshi’s heart nearly stopped. Jumping
off her chair, she prepared to fight whoever came through the door, sighing with
relief when Malcolm stomped in.

He didn’t even notice her reaction, stomping over to the comm and punching the
buttons with such force she expected the instrument to explode or collapse.

Sinking back into her seat, she listened to yet another frustrating
conversation. Definitely in hell.

“Stuck in traffic? Has it been stuck in traffic for days? Tell me where it’s
stuck in traffic and I’ll go *get* it!”

Hoshi propped her feet up on a handy box and closed her eyes. It was going to be
a long day. And there was definitely no sightseeing in her future.

* * * * *

The final arrival of the merchandise, a mere three hours before they had to lift
off, was anti-climactic.

Someone knocked on the door and Hoshi and Malcolm both jumped to answer it,
nearly falling over each other in their haste. After a few moments of tripping,
grabbing, and steadying, Malcolm managed to open the door.

The young native man wore something that looked *exactly* like a baseball cap on
backwards. As Malcolm signed for their delivery, Hoshi rubbed her eyes. By the
time she was done, the room was filled with a crate about five feet tall and
three feet wide and the kid was gone.

They stared at the nondescript box, which had a few markings she automatically
translated as ‘this side up.’

“So, this is what caused all our trouble.”

“Indeed.” Malcolm stared at the box with a great deal of obvious loathing.
“Commander Tucker had best appreciate what we went through.”

Hoshi sighed. “He will. He’ll think it’s hilarious.”

Glaring, Malcolm hissed. “If he laughs, I’ll kill him.”

“C’mon, Malcolm, let’s just get everything to the shuttle and leave before
something goes wrong.”

* * * * *

As the shuttle lifted, Hoshi glanced at Malcolm. His lips were tight, his
expression annoyed.

“Quite the vacation, dear.”

“I have extraordinarily bad luck with shore leave.”

“At least we managed to get everything on the captain’s list,” she said with a
grin.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Look at it this way. At least we had lots of time to screw like bunnies.”

His choked cough just made her laugh.

“Don’t *do* that to me,” he said.

Turning in her chair, she stopped laughing and waited for him to look up from
the console. “I love you, Malcolm.”

His expression softened. “I love you, too.”

“And someday we’ll get a real vacation.”

“Absolutely.”

–end–

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