(Inspired by TheGrrrl's "The Rescue")
"I beg your pardon?"
Trip flushed at Malcolm's question, which had been uttered in a tone laden with teasing accusation. Silently, the engineer slid his eyes to his other lover, seeking support.
"Don't look at me," Jonathan shook his head. "You're the one who told him he was like a warp engine. I don't blame him for wanting an explanation."
"Yes, Trip," Malcolm chimed in. His expression was stern but his eyes twinkled. "What did you mean by that?"
The three men were lounging on the bed in Archer's quarters. Dressed casually, they were watching a recording of a water polo match. That was the theory, anyway. The reality involved a lot of groping and murmured endearments. These had come to a laughing stop when Trip lovingly referred to Malcolm as his "English warp engine."
If you knew him well, and Trip and Jonathan most certainly did, it was obvious that Malcolm was amused rather than offended. He did enjoy giving Trip a hard time, however, and Tucker couldn't help but respond to the challenge in Malcolm's eyes when his lover demanded an explanation.
"Well, darlin', " he drawled, emphasizing his accent for affect, "you are just like Enterprise's warp 5 engine." Trip slipped his hand underneath Malcolm's t-shirt and began to rub Reed's flat stomach. "You're sleek and powerful. You're full of energy. You're temperamental as hell..."
"Temperamental - this is supposed to appease me?" Malcolm muttered, even as he closed his eyes in appreciation of the sensations Trip's warm hand was causing.
"Shush and let me finish," Trip chided him. "You're sleek and powerful. You're full of energy. You're temperamental as hell," he dropped his voice to a hoarse whisper. "And you purr when I got my hands on you, just like th' warp engine."
Malcolm opened one eye to glare at him. "Purr?"
Jonathan laughed. "I think he's got you pegged, Malcolm, you might as well admit it."
"I most certainly do not purr," Malcolm said haughtily.
Trip and Jonathan exchanged looks, grinned, and then pounced. In record time, Malcolm was pinned to the bed with his shirt pulled up, writhing from their ministrations. It only took a few moments more for Archer and Tucker's tongues to cause him to make a breathy trilling sound.
Satisfied, the two older men sat back.
"See," Trip said smugly. "You do purr."
Malcolm pulled his shirt down. "I suppose, to the uneducated, that particular noise might resemble a purr." He looked archly at each man in turn. "But only to the uneducated."
"Uh-huh," Jonathan kissed Malcolm's nose before settling back. He briefly glanced at Trip. "You know, my dad was responsible for the warp 5 engine."
Trip, who was on the other side of Malcolm, propped himself up on one arm to look at Archer. "So I've heard."
Jonathan ran one finger down the outer seam of Malcolm's jeans, carefully not looking Trip in the face. "Well, does that mean I'm like a warp engine too?"
Tucker grinned. "Hell, no."
Giving Malcolm a quick kiss, Trip clambered over the smaller man so that he could straddle Jonathan's hips. Once there, he kissed the captain slowly and thoroughly, only pulling back when he felt the man underneath him struggle for breath.
Jonathan ran his tongue over his swollen lower lip. Trip had been using his teeth during that kiss.
"You are a good, old-fashioned combustion engine." Trip said firmly as he wiggled on top of Jonathan.
"You mean he's inefficient and generates noxious fumes?" Malcolm smiled sweetly at Trip as he curled against Jonathan's side and nestled his head against the captain's shoulder.
"Very funny," Trip retorted. He turned a smoldering gaze onto Archer. "What I meant is, he's got this big piston that can thrust back and forth all night long."
Trip ground his crotch against Jonathan's, causing the big man to groan. Tucker looked at Reed as if to challenge him to say something but Malcolm was fresh out of smart comments - he was too busy watching the spot where his lovers' groins met.
"I suppose there's something to be said for combustion," Jonathan panted. He grinned as he wrapped his hands around Tucker's ass and pulled him closer. "Even if it's not as powerful as a warp engine."
"It isn't the size of your engine," Malcolm said earnestly - too earnestly. "It's how you use it."
Jonathan and Trip exchanged another meaningful look before turning to Reed. This time, the tactical officer almost made it off the bed before they grabbed him. Malcolm let them think they had the upper hand for several moments, but then he deftly maneuvered out from the grasp of their tickling fingers. With a flip, he ended up on the top of the pile, looking down at his sweating lovers with an expression of triumph.
"A little sensitive about our engine size, are we?" He asked with a grin as Jonathan and Trip lay there, panting.
Instead of being offended, the duo simply grinned back at him. Both men were hung like Klingons and knew it.
"What about you, Malcolm?" Trip asked. "You ever compare John and me to somethin'?" Tucker's eyebrows waggled. "Like maybe a torpedo?"
"Not bloody likely," Reed snorted. "I can just hear you having fun with 'payloads' and the size of your 'explosion.' Not to mention the inevitable and regrettable reference to someone's 'aft cannon.'"
"Regrettable?" Jonathan asked, amused. Malcolm didn't get this playful often and Archer was savoring the experience.
"Yes, because then I would have to hurt someone," Malcolm explained. He looked pointedly at Trip as he nudged the engineer with a well-placed toe.
"What?" Trip complained. "Why do I always get blamed for everything?"
"Well, you did start the conversation," Archer temporized.
"I just wanted to know how he thought of us," Trip pouted.
Sensing that Tucker's mood, at least, had changed, Malcolm wiggled down until he was spread out on top of the other men.
"How I think of you?" He repeated. "I mostly think of how lucky I am to have the two of you." Malcolm kissed Jonathan. "Increasingly, I find myself thinking of how you both complete me." He kissed Trip. "But I don't need to compare you to anything - you're perfect just as you are."
Mollified, Trip brightened. "Well alrighty then."
Tucker stole another kiss from Malcolm and winked at him before turning to their other lover.
"What about you, John?" He asked Archer. "Do you compare us to anything?"
Jonathan smiled but wasn't ready to share his inner musings about having found his own personal day and night in his lovers. Instead, he let his grin turn lecherous as he nibbled on Malcolm's shoulder and ran a hand up Trip's thigh. "No, I'm a man of action."
"I always liked that about you," Malcolm purred, leaning into Jonathan's caress.
"Even if I sometimes go on away missions without my tactical officer?" Archer teased, knowing that occasionally Malcolm got frustrated with him for not taking enough security when he left the ship.
"That's the beauty of it, Jonathan," Malcolm replied in a husky voice. "Your tactical officer is right here for this mission."
"So he is..." Jonathan responded, taking another bite of the younger man's shoulder.
"Hey! Your chief engineer's right here too," Trip reminded him.
"Really?" Jonathan murmured as he facetiously poked around the bedcovers, "Is that what that lump is?"
When Trip opened his mouth to protest, Jonathan covered it with his own, only releasing Tucker's lips when Malcolm demanded his turn. Polo game and conversation alike were forgotten as the lovers turned to physical means to express themselves. Where the lovers' touches had been playful before, they turned reverent. Clothing was removed and skin worshipped with both lips and fingers. Names were moaned in voices husky with need. Lost in sensation, comparisons were the absolute last thing on anyone's mind.
The interruption, when it came, was most unwelcome.
"Engineering to Commander Tucker."
"Bloody hell," Malcolm groaned, resting his head against Archer's sweaty hip.
Trip sighed and reached up to flip the comm switch. "Tucker here."
"Sorry to bother you," a hesitant voice came over the communication system, "but the warp engines fell out of alignment and nothing we do seems to work. I think it needs your special touch."
This time, three voices groaned but no one suggested Trip not go. Enterprise was the fourth entity in their pairing and they all knew her needs came first.
"Be right there," Tucker said tersely and switched the comm off.
"Do you want some help?" Jonathan asked quietly, watching as Trip started disentangling himself from their bed to reach for his clothes.
"Nah, you two stay here," Trip said. "This won't take but a minute."
"Do you want us to take care of that for you?" Malcolm offered, gesturing vaguely towards the rigid proof that Trip had been enjoying the evening very much.
Tucker leaned down and gently grabbed Malcolm by the nape of his neck. "Now why is it when you say it like that, it sounds like a chore?" Reed started to frown and Trip pulled him in for a quick but passionate kiss. "I know what you meant, babe, but save it for later." His eyebrows waggled again. "I want to take my time with the two of you when I get back."
Malcolm grinned cheekily as he let Jonathan pull him into his arms. "Go make the engine purr, love. Good thing for Enterprise that I'm not a jealous lover."
"We'll be waiting for you," Jonathan promised.
By this time, Trip was dressed and heading out the door. "I'll hold you to that promise."
Tucker stepped out but, just before the door closed, he popped his head back into Archer's quarters. "Better have that 'aft cannon' all slicked up and ready - I'll be lookin' for some mighty big explosions when I get back."
He ducked as a thrown pillow barely missed his head, retreating into the safety of the corridor. Chuckling, Trip made for the engine room, using a jaunty stride that moved him along quickly. He had three engines to make purr - one mechanical and two biological.
Damn, but sometimes it was good to be an engineer.
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