Liquid Sunshine @thylekshran
Running Hot

“What’s this called, again?” Shran asks quietly, leaning in closer to Trip so he’ll be able to hear him over the movie. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees T’Pol give him a cold stare from the row behind them. He ignores her.

“Frankenstein,” Trip whispers back. “It’s based on a book, and it’s real old. Earth classic.”

Shran nods and settles back in his seat. He’s thankful to Trip for inviting him to movie night; joining a primarily human crew has been a difficult transition for him, and the good Doctor can't spend every waking moment keeping him company. Being a part of a shipwide social event might help him relax, at least insomuch as he can relax at all.

Though he does wish they were watching a comedy or something. It’s embarrassing, but for all his military training, Shran has never liked entertainment meant to scare. Perhaps because of his military training. There's enough to be scared of in the real world.

As the film plays itself out, Shran inches toward Trip without realizing it, his body seeking the comfort of a grounding shoulder against his own. It’s been two years since they had whiskey together in the Delphic Expanse, but Shran remembers how safe he felt sharing things he hadn't told anyone before, and he trusts the kindhearted engineer as much as his captain.

When he finally does touch his side, they both start and sit up straighter, breaking the contact. Shran mumbles an apology (he ends up apologizing a lot to him, it seems) but Trip just smiles and puts his arm across the back of Shran’s chair.

“It’s alright, Commander,” he says lowly in Shran’s ear. “No shame in being scared. I ain't gonna tell anybody.” His grin is playful, so Shran’s only protest is a light swat at his shoulder.

“If you two are quite done,” T’Pol says coldly. Shran waves dismissively and turns back to the movie.

Trip’s hand brushes his bicep as he shakes with silent laughter. Shran watches the light of the screen play on his face and is struck once again with how much emotion is right there to see.

Maybe it’s just to spite T’Pol, but he leans in one more time. “Can I offer you some Andorian Ale after we’re through here?”

“I think I’d like that.”

He slides his arm down from the chair onto Shran’s shoulders. T’Pol clicks her tongue, and Shran smiles.

Several hours, a movie, and three drinks with Captain Archer later, Trip offers to walk Shran back to his quarters.

“Such a gentleman.”

“Ya won’t find anyone with manners better’n a Southerner,” Trip says, blocking the sliding door to let Shran through first.

Archer rolls his eyes. “You’re both on Alpha shift tomorrow, go get some sleep. That’s an order.”

Archer rolls his eyes. “You’re both on Alpha shift tomorrow, go get some sleep. That’s an order.”

“Yessir!” Trip throws a lazy salute, and Archer practically pushes him out the door. Shran and Trip go giggling down the hallway.

At some point, Trip can’t quite remember when, they started leaning on each other as they walked. When they reach Shran’s room, he finally notices the heat of the Andorian’s hand (they’re always hot, part of being from a cold planet one would guess) on his right hip, the arm around his waist.

Shran inputs his code and the door slides open. Trip feels something in the air between them, and suspects Shran does too because his antennae lean forward expectantly. He likes that even when Shran’s face is unreadable, his antennae can’t sit still. He wants to learn what all the motions mean. He thinks Shran is mighty handsome, and he doesn’t know what to do with that thought.

“Well, uh, it’s been real fun. Thanks for inviting me.”

“Of course, Commander Tucker, and thank you for accompanying me to movie night.”

“You can just call me Trip. I figure y’all were pretty strict on titles in the Guard, but I don’t go in for all that formality.”

Shran squints at him and he has to resist squirming under whatever scrutiny he’s being subjected to. “Trip it is.”

The silence holds too long and Trip’s afraid his brain will betray him and tell Shran just how much he enjoyed their time together. “Night, then.”

“Goodnight, Trip.”

The door shuts, and he’s left to question his emotions alone in the dim hallway.

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