Sensory Deprivation 

Part 2

by Juli

August 2002

Continued from Part 1

It was a good thing, Malcolm Reed decided, that he loved Trip so much. Otherwise, heíd be tempted to strangle the engineer.

Barely repressing the urge to instead toss the offending phaser piece across the cabin, Malcolm managed to set it down calmly on the desk. How did Trip expect him to put the damn thing together, anyway? Didnít he realize Malcolm was blind?

Reed sighed explosively. Yes, Trip knew and had gone to great lengths to find him a task to give him something to do. It was frustrating and nearly impossible to put a phase pistol back together without being able to see it, but Malcolm loved a challenge. Even as he cursed Trip, he blessed his thoughtful lover for giving him this one. Even if it was just busy work.

A small device clipped to the arm of Reedís shirt vibrated and the Englishman sighed again. The dismantled phase pistol hadnít been Tuckerís only surprise. The Enterprise ís chief engineer had also come up with a small apparatus that would give Malcolm warning when the door to their quarters opened or closed. No more chance of being snuck up on and startled, which was very much appreciated. What wasnít appreciated was the visitor being heralded. Or, rather, the reason that Travis had come to see him.

It was a good thing that Malcolm loved Jonathan Archer so much, or he might just be tempted to strangle the captain too. Although disabled, he was capable of spending an afternoon on his own and didnít need a babysitter.

He hadnít realized heíd said that last bit aloud until Jonathanís large hand cupped his cheek before signing a gentle rebuke. What the captain conveyed was true, Travis was a friend and not a babysitter. Reed could only hope that Mayweather hadnít heard the comment. Isolated as he was in his world of darkness and silence, it was becoming increasingly difficult to know when heíd said something out loud and when heíd just thought it. A bad habit, that, and one he would need to work on correcting before it became more deeply entrenched.

He felt Archer tilt his hand up and then a new set of fingers was sending him a message. Travis, Malcolm was quick to note, was particularly good as this Morse Code. But then, with Hoshi as his lover and personal tutor, heíd had the best of teachers.

"Itís good to see you..." Reed said, then broke off as he realized how stupid that sounded. Altering his greeting, he tried again, "It was kind of you to come by. I donít need for anyone to stay with me, but it shall be good to have the company."

A quick kiss to his cheek and then the vibrating device told Malcolm that Jonathan had left. For the first time since heíd been injured, both of his lovers had been needed on duty. Reed had argued that he was capable of staying on his own, but Trip and Jonathan had disagreed. It wasnít so much that they thought Malcolm would injure himself in an accident, but that they worried that the ship would get into trouble and Reed wouldnít know to get himself to safer quarters. With little grace, Malcolm had eventually agreed. He was still grumpy about it, but knew it wasnít fair to take it out on Travis.

"So, now that youíre here, what do you want to do?" The armory officer asked. "Iím afraid a movie is out of the question."

After being touched so frequently by Jonathan and Trip, Mayweatherís hand felt odd on his own. The helmsman had soft, warm hands with smoother skin than either of his lovers. It almost distracted him from what Travis was suggesting. Abruptly, Reed pulled away.

"No, thank you, I donít care to go down to the mess hall," Malcolm said curtly. "I prefer to stay here."

Apparently undeterred, Travis took his hand again and explained his suggestion. Reed tensed at the younger manís words.

"I appreciate knowing of the rest of the crewís concern," the armory officer admitted. "But Iím not ready to go out into public yet, especially not to eat. Iíd feel like a freak show."

Mayweatherís grip on his wrist hardened and the next message was conveyed a little more firmly. Malcolm felt himself blush. "No, youíre right. If this had happened to someone else, I wouldnít consider them a freak. Still... itís hard to get my bearings when thereís lots of people around. Iím just not ready for that yet."

His friendís hand withdrew, to be replaced with a small, smooth object that felt cool to the touch. Reed turned it over and over, letting his fingertips figure out what it was.

"A chess piece?" He finally guessed, smiling when Travis indicated that he was right.

A couple of hours and several chess wins later, Malcolm was feeling much better about having a babysitter. Heíd found being blind had actually improved his game, forcing him to focus intensely in order to track all of the board movements. When Travis hesitated over the suggestion of another match, Reed assumed that the helmsman was a little tired of being beat.

"Whatís the matter?" The lieutenant asked, sensing an underlying reason behind his friendís reluctance. A few finger strokes later and he had his answer. "I didnít realize that it had gotten that late," Malcolm apologized. "Trip must be running a bit behind. Why donít you go ahead and go. Iím sure Hoshiís waiting for you."

Mayweatherís gestures asked him if he was sure and Reed nodded his head. "Iím positive. Porthos can keep me company and it will only be for a few minutes. The captain will understand; Iíll make sure of it."

With Reedís reassurances, Travis left and, for the first time since being injured, Malcolm found himself without human company. It was ironic. Malcolm had spent the first months on the Enterprise being lonely and feeling emotionally isolated... and then had found himself in a relationship with Jonathan and Trip. Now that he had the other two menís love, a physical disability virtually cut him off from everyone around him. Only, this time, the blackness and silence of his isolation made his previous loneliness seem like a walk in the park.

Not liking that train of thought, the armory officer got up and paced, trusting Porthosí canine sense to keep the little dog from getting underfoot. The one expedition heíd actually wanted to make outside their quarters had been to the exercise room, but his lovers had protested, citing the limitations Phlox had dictated. Reed wasnít used to such prolonged inactivity and he was aware that it added to his bad mood.

"Perhaps, I can go for a walk when Trip or John get back," he said aloud. Then, remembering how surprised and disappointed Travis had been when heíd refused to go to the mess hall, it occurred to Malcolm that maybe he didnít need to wait for his lovers to return. Unlike Porthos, he didnít need to be taken for a walk; he was perfectly capable of managing one on his own.

Torn with indecision, Malcolm stood in the middle of the room, feeling Porthosí warmth as the beagle sat down next to him. To go out into the corridors by himself... not knowing who else would be there... the inevitable stumbles and very public mistakes....

The alternative, however, was to remain huddled inside the cabin, isolated and burdensome on the men he loved. He couldnít wait for Phlox to find a cure forever and if Jonathan meant to defy Starfleet to keep Malcolm onboard, then it was up to Malcolm to prove that he belonged there.

With his new resolve, the Englishman felt his way to the door, stopping when his hand encountered its metallic smoothness. "Reeds do not wallow," he said firmly. "They take what life deals them and make the best of it."

Determined, Malcolm pressed the device that would open the door and boldly made to go through it... only to trip on a furry obstacle.

"Porthos," Reed grumbled as he barely caught himself from falling by grabbing the doorframe, "you are not exactly seeing eye dog material." Reaching down, he groped until his hands encountered the beagle, then gently encouraged the beast back into the cabin. Hand on the dogís collar, he commanded, "Stay," not releasing it until he felt Porthos obey. Moving backwards, he cautiously made his way out and shut the door behind him, confident that the dog hadnít slipped past him.

It felt odd to feel a current of air caress his cheek. It was obvious that Malcolm was in a longer space than heíd previously was in and he found himself enjoying the sensation. Keeping the schematics of the ship firmly in mind, Reed set out, one hand lightly on the corridor wall to guide himself.

Luckily, he wasnít in the middle of a shift change and the corridor was deserted. In fact, Malcolm had made several turns before he was even seen. It was two of Tripís crew that spotted him first.

"Hey, isnít that Lieutenant Reed?" the first one murmured to the other.

"No way, heard no one but the commander and the captain has seen him for days," she replied, not bothering to look. "I guess he was hurt too bad and had to stay in his quarters."

"Well, guess again, because that is him," her companion responded as Malcolm got closer. "Evening, lieutenant, glad to see you up and around."

At first, the two ensigns didnít know why the superior officer didnít respond. As he drew closer, however, they could see the white film over his eyes.

"Oh, no," the second crewman exclaimed. "It is true, he canít see."

The first one looked thoughtful. "If thatís true, then he probably canít hear either." The manís eyes widened. "Shit! The beta crewís got that mess down the way, heíll probably trip right over it if he canít see itís there."

"Weíll have to guide him past it," the second said, reaching as if to grab Reed. Her partner stopped her.

"Donít think thatís a real great idea," he said when she glared at him. "Hey, you didnít work with him when we were installing that cannonÖ I did. The lieutenant would not appreciate being led around like heís feeble, trust me."

She rolled her eyes. "So, what are we supposed to do, let him fall and hurt himself just to save his pride? Thatíll go over real well with the boss. Thatís his lover, you know."

"I know that," he responded, "but, as Commander Tucker would say, thereís more than one way to skin a cat." Moving a few feet down the corridor, the engineer opened a channel on the communication system.

Within a few minutes, the news had spread on the Enterprise that their chief of security was out and about. Using the communication system as well as word of mouth, they made sure Reedís way was clear. If anyone was working in his path and had equipment cluttering the walkway, it was quickly moved aside. Similarly, if Malcolm entered a particular corridor, anyone else in it immediately drew to the side so they wouldnít bump him.

Malcolm was blissfully unaware of their protective maneuvers and would have been supremely embarrassed had he known. As it was, he thought it was odd that heíd encountered no one, but wasnít going to complain. He was also concentrating too hard on figuring out how to get to his own quarters. Theyíd been mostly unused since becoming Trip and Jonathanís lover, but he figured they were a safe destination for this first outing.

Reed had just entered the final corridor when Trip caught up to him. The chief engineer had been on his way to the mess to pick up dinner when heíd heard what Malcolm was up to. Breathless, heíd hurried to catch up. Tucker had just begun to move to intercept his mate when his other lover grabbed his elbow.

"Donít, Trip, please," Archer asked. "Heís come this far, let him finish."

Tucker watched while Reed stopped in front of a door. "But, why? If he wanted to get out of our quarters for a spell, all he had to do was say somethiní. No sense wandering all over by himself if one of us could help him."

Jonathan smiled. "Maybe that was the point."

The two men watched while Malcolm keyed in an access code, smiling at the tactical officerís wide grin as the door opened. Heíd made it to the correct cabin and, unbeknownst to their lover, they shared in his success. Trip sagged against the wall as they watched Reed go inside.

Jonathan looked at the commander thoughtfully. "Did you see the look on his face? Still think it was a bad idea?"

Trip shook his head reluctantly. "No, I guess it was important." He grinned suddenly at the older man. "But Iím glad I didnít know he was doiní it until he was almost done, if you know what I mean."

Archer wrapped an arm around Tripís shoulders. "Yeah, I guess I do. Letís give him a few minutes to savor his triumph," the captain suggested as he guided Trip down the hallway. "Then we can show up with dinner."

Alone in his quarters, Malcolm grinned in satisfaction. He was handicapped but not completely helpless. Perhaps, even if Phlox didnít figure out how to fix him, he could remain on board. Heíd become Chefís chief vegetable peeler and bottle washer if that was what it took to remain with his lovers.

Finding his way to a chair, Reed settled down to wait. He knew that Trip and Archer would figure out where he was eventually. Until then, the lieutenant entertained himself thinking of ways to teach the crew how to navigate around the Enterprise in the dark. It was, as heíd just discovered, an extremely handy skill.



The lovers were stretched out on their bed and Malcolm had his shirt pushed up to reveal his stomach. The armory officer would call out words at random and the other two men would race to see which one could correctly tap it out in Morse Code in the least amount of time. So far, it was a draw. Trip was faster but Jonathan more accurate. Since Reed would reward the winner with a kiss, it was a hotly contested competition.

"Címon, you two, I know you know what the word means," Malcolmís voice was full of laughter. "Iíve seen each of you perform the act, if you remember. It was certainly a night Iíll never forget." He wished he could see his loversí faces as he reminded them of that particular encounter. It had started by Jonathan saying that they should watch each other pleasure themselves, so they could know better how to pleasure each other. A little tentative about the idea, Trip and Malcolm had made John go first and the captain had been quick to prove why it was a very good suggestion indeed.

His first excursion out of their quarters had been an epiphany for the impaired man. On the surface, it didnít seem like much, just a short trip from one set of crew quarters to another. It represented much more to Malcolm, however. In a small way, heíd proven to himself that he wasnít completely broken, that even if the worst happened and no solution was found to his blindness and deafness, that he could still find a way to function. Reed still struggled with bouts of depression and being crotchety, but overall his outlook improved. He still hesitated to eat in public, but he was willing to venture into other parts of Enterprise and had even resumed his workout sessions. The latter, however, were strictly supervised by either Trip or Jonathan, to make sure he didnít exceed the doctorís dictates.

What contributed even more to his improved mood was the fact that Phlox had begun calling him to sickbay for tests. Even though the Denobulan was closed-mouth about treatment options, it was a huge relief for all three lovers to see the physician move past the pure research stage and grow closer to actually treating him, sensing that some sort of remedy, or attempt at one, had put all three lovers in a good but anxious mood. The game had been born out of a desire to distract one another, although the older men were careful when they played. Malcolmís bruises had mostly faded but one or two lingered, plus his ribs were still tender.

Tucker and Archer concentrated, long fingers flying on Malcolmís skin as they vied for completion. By the time they were done, Reed was chuckling loudly.

"Trip, I think you need a dictionary," Malcolm laughed. "Itís m-a-s-t-u-r-b-a-t-e, not master-bate."

"I guess that means I win again," Archer said smugly, leaning down for his kiss. The lieutenant gladly gave it up, pulling Jonathanís head down for a thorough job.

"Yeah, well, Iíd rather be doing it than spelliní it," Trip said, trying to hide his disappointment. The evil look Jonathan gave him didnít help.

"Nothing stopping you. Donít abstain on my account," the captain challenged.

Tucker was saved from answering by a chime at the door. The two blonds looked at each expectantly and, having felt the vibration from the warning device, Malcolm sat up and hurriedly pulled down his shirt.

By the time Phlox entered, all three men were sitting up and looking decorous.

"Good news, gentleman," the doctor greeted them. "Thanks to assistance from my friends at the Interspecies Medical Exchange program, I do believe we have come up with a course of treatment for Mr. Reed that should prove successful."

Archerís fingers moved to convey the message to Malcolm. Trip would have been faster, but the news was too important to risk any mistakes, even minor ones.

Malcolmís face tensed with excitement. "Tell us more."

Phlox rarely had to be cajoled into talking. "Itís a amalgamation of sonic bombardment, chemical washes, and surgery, but I believe weíve found a combination of procedures that should loosen and remove the blocks on the lieutenantís senses to allow them to perform normally."

"And the risks?" Trip asked, seeing that Jonathan was too busy translating to inquire.

"Minimal," Phlox assured them. "Thatís why we took so long to devise a strategy to alleviate Mr. Reedís condition."

"It sounds too good to be true," Malcolm said, almost overwhelmed at the news. "But this experience has taught me a thing or two about trust. When can you get started?"

Phloxís ever-present smile widened. "First thing in the morning." He nodded at the two sighted men. "I shall expect you bright and early in sickbay." The physician left them, sensitive to the possibility that the lovers might want private time to celebrate.

Jonathan and Trip moved to embrace their mate, too happy and relieved to even try any more sophisticated communication. Malcolm lay content in their arms, trying to comprehend the overdue turn of good luck.

"You were right... patience and trust," he said, "I should have believed you." He turned to kiss each of the other men.

The three men lay in a pile of contentment, stroking each other in relief and joy that transcended the sexual. The morning would come soon enough and, with it, a likely end to the darkness that Malcolm had been plunged into. Anticipation would make the night seem long, but at least they had one another to fill the empty time with comfort.


"Whatís takiní so damn long?" Trip paced outside the frosted doors of sickbay. Their lover had been inside with Phlox for hours and the engineer was impatient for news.

So was Jonathan, but he hid it better. "Iím sure the doctor will tell us when he can. You donít want him to hurry anything, do you?"

Tuckerís pacing stopped. "No, guess not... but still...."

"I know what you mean," Jonathan said. "I thought I could stay on the bridge while the operation was going on, but you see where that got me."

"Yeah, and I was gonna realign the warp nacelles, but that didnít work out quite like I expected," the chief engineer admitted. Shaking his head in disgust, he made a confession. "I guess Iím as big a mother hen as you are...."

Their conversation was cut short by Phlox coming out to talk to them. "Good news! Iím happy to report that the procedures appear to be a success."

"Appear to be?" Archer repeated with concern. "Youíre not sure?"

"All indications are that the treatment worked every bit as well as projected," Phlox reassured him, "but we wonít know for sure until Mr. Reed wakes up. Which should be any moment now." The doctor gestured for the two officers to join him. "I thought you might like to be there when he revives."

Trailing behind the physician, Jonathan and Trip followed Phlox into sickbay, looking for their first sight of Malcolm. The armory officer was the sole occupant of the healing area and they made a beeline for his bed. Given the nature of their Starfleet careers, theyíd seen each other in sickbay more often than any of them liked. This time was a little different, though. On this occasion, Malcolm wasnít lying there, injured. Instead, he was asleep from a procedure done to heal an injury. It made a big difference.

Phlox nodded at the lovers in satisfaction, then approached Mr. Reed with an injection. It hissed as it went in, a sound the Denobulan found reassuring. "He should wake in just a moment. Weíll just let him open his eyes naturally." Moving to the roomís environment controls, the physician lowered the lights.

Sure enough, Malcolmís eyelids started twitching and the lieutenantís head lolled on his pillow. Moving sluggishly, he blinked his eyes open, staring ahead blankly. His eyes were clear of the horrible white opaqueness but he didnít appear to be seeing anything.

Trip and Jonathan felt their stomachs drop to the floor with twin thuds.

"Malcolm?" Archer said anxiously.

Reed slowly smiled. "Well, if the two of you arenít a sight for sore eyes."

Trip whooped, covering his mouth belatedly as he realized that a loud noise might not be the best thing for recovering ears.

Malcolm just laughed freely, a joyful sound in the sterile room. "Do that again, Trip."

Tucker looked at Phlox for permission and the Denobulan nodded benevolently. "Go right ahead, commander, it will do him no harm."

Trip happily complied, then eagerly went forward to give Reed a huge hug. He reluctantly let go when Phlox gently insisted on running some tests. Only when the chief engineer looked to share his jubilation and relief with Jonathan did he realize that the captain was no longer in the room.

Frowning, Tucker stuck his head out of the sickbay doors, easily spotting Jonathanís tall form a few feet away. The older man was leaning against the wall, head bowed and hand over his eyes. With a last glance back to see that Malcolm was busy with whatever Phlox needed, Trip slipped out of sickbay.

"John, whatís wrong?"

Archer immediately dropped his hand and looked up guiltily. Tucker took one look at the other manís face and knew. "You didnít believe that Phlox could cure Malcolm, did you?"

Jonathan looked down again. "Not 100%, no."

"Then why?" Tripís voice held no disdain, only curiosity.

"I wanted to be strong, for Malcolm... and for you." The captain admitted. "Most of the time I hoped for a successful treatment, but sometimes, especially late at night, I wondered."

The engineer contemplated his lover for a long moment. Then, moving gently, he clasped the other manís shoulder. "You big boy scout. I could see why you wouldnít let on to Malcolm, but you should have told me. I could have helped you, just like you helped me."

"I know..." Archerís voice trailed off.

Tucker looked at him affectionately. Malcolm wasnít the only stubborn one in this relationship. "Come on," he encouraged his mate. "Heís waiting for us."

Smiling back at the engineer, Jonathan wrapped his arm around Tripís waist, allowing himself to be led back into sickbay.


The trio made love with the lights on.

Malcolm was positioned in the center of the bed, sandwiched by the larger forms of his mates. Trip was behind him, making slow thrusts as he gently but thoroughly took the smaller man, swiveling his hips at the end of each penetration in a move designed to drive Reed crazy. Archer was in front of him, kissing Malcolm and nipping madly at his skin. The lieutenantís leg was thrown over Jonathanís hip, giving Tucker deeper access to his body. Reed and Archerís cocks aligned and the older man controlled their humping motion with arms wrapped around the dark-haired manís torso, his large hands splayed against Malcolmís back, refusing to set a quicker pace, no matter how much the Englishman pleaded.

After days of worry and limited communication, the two older men were determined to prolong this experience as long as possible.

At Malcolmís request, both of the other men were being more vocal than normal, making moans and cries that was music to his long-denied ears. Reed froze as Trip found the sweet spot inside him, gasping at the sensation.

"Right there, Trip, right there," he panted as he arched his back, trying to take his lover deeper into his body.

Tucker looked over Malcolmís shoulder at Jonathan, seeing a mirror of his own wicked grin. With unspoken agreement, both men sped up, leaving Malcolm to writhe between them in uncontrollable ecstasy. Trip jabbed his cock into Malcolmís prostate over and over, feeling the tight sheath enveloping him contract in orgasm. Reed was bathed in warmth within and without as his lovers joined him in climaxing, the three men moaning in near harmony as their bodies reached completion.

Afterwards, Malcolm lay with their two heads pillowed on his chest, absently stroking their hair as his lovers drifted towards a satisfied slumber. The light was still on... neither Trip nor Archer having the heart to ask Reed if they could turn it off.

"Whatís the matter," Jonathan asked sleepily. "Donít tell me youíre not tired?"

Malcolm smiled. "No, I am, but I want to stay awake a few minutes more. Looking at you and Trip... I donít want to waste the opportunity."

Jonathan kissed Reedís chest. Heíd been by Malcolmís side through the whole ordeal but knew he only had a glimmer of understanding. "Okay, but donít stay up too long. Remember, youíre back on duty tomorrow. Even if itís limited duty, we donít want you sleeping on the job."

Reed looked askance at him. "Like I would forget. Go to sleep, John, and let me just look at you a while yet."

Jonathan nuzzled him one last time and then closed his eyes, joining Trip in falling fast asleep. Malcolm smiled tenderly as he listened to his matesí quiet breathing, the sound cherished even more since he thought he might have lost the ability to hear it. Still, after all was said and done, now that he was cured, he could safely say that it had been a learning experience. Jonathan, as always, had been a tower of strength and encouragement. Tripís insight into how to distract Malcolm had been somewhat unexpected, but he should have known. The engineer was adept at fixing things and that ability wasnít just limited to equipment. More than that, though, Reed had learned his worth to his lovers; that they would be willing to stand up to Starfleet for him. That meant a lot to Malcolm.

Malcolm had never thought of himself as the type of man to inspire that kind of devotion; never dreamed that he would be loved that much. It humbled him. In a way, he supposed that his experience had taught him to see his lovers in a new light. To finally hear what theyíd been saying all along, that he was a necessary, desired part of their life. Maybe heíd just needed to be deprived of those senses to finally see and hear what had been in front of him all along.

Reed looked down at Jonathan and Trip. Despite his late-night meanderings, they remained who theyíd always been; two beautiful, courageous souls who would go to the ends of the Earth and beyond for what they cared about. The only thing that had changed was Malcolmís awareness of just how intimately their devotion included him.

After kissing each man gently on the head, Malcolm carefully reached up and turned out the light. He didnít need it anymore.

~the end~


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